Adaptive Corrals $105M to Ramp up Immune System Diagnostics

4/7/14Follow @benthefidler

Adaptive Biotechnologies was spun out of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center six years ago to capitalize on a platform that could give researchers a detailed look at a patient’s immune response. Today, the Seattle-based company just got a big vote of confidence from Viking Global Investors that it can turn that work into a successful diagnostics business.

Adaptive announced today that it’s closed out a Series C and added a $100 million Series D equity financing for a combined haul of $105 million. Adaptive said all of the new dollars are coming directly from New York-based Viking, which will get an observer’s seat on Adaptive’s board as part of the financing. Adaptive has now raised a total of $120 million in venture backing since its inception in 2008.

For those unfamiliar to the Adaptive story, the company was formed as Adaptive TCR, a spinout of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. The company has developed a platform called ImmunoSEQ, which uses DNA sequencing technology and a proprietary algorithm to give researchers a deep look into the arrangement of genetic information in a person’s T cells or B cells—and to quantify his or her immune response.

This technology can be used in a numbers of ways: to tell, for instance, whether any mutant T or B cells remain after a patient with blood cancer undergoes a round of chemotherapy. Adaptive has used that capability to create its first diagnostic product, clonoSEQ, which spots such lingering cells, also known as “minimal residue disease.”

Adaptive has been making the transition to a commercial-stage company, and is now ramping up that effort with the new cash. The company began selling clonoSEQ in 2013, and plans to use its technology to power diagnostics for other disorders, like autoimmune and infectious diseases, as well.

With the new cash, Adaptive will expand its platform internationally and add some new products to its lineup. Later this year, the company will begin selling a new kit, for instance, that research customers can use to do Adaptive’s sequencing work in-house (they currently have to ship DNA samples to the company). It’ll also develop and launch a new assay called quanTILfy that’s designed to help count the number of white blood cells that have migrated into a cancer patient’s tumor and use them as biomarkers of potential response to immunotherapies. Adaptive is going to spend some of the new cash to staff up as well.

“We are excited to have our strategic vision of immunosequencing across disease states be validated by a large capital investment from Viking,” said founder and CEO Chad Robins, in a statement. “[T]hese proceeds will allow us to build our organization with top talent in all key areas from research to sales and to further commercialize our platforms and applications.”

Adaptive generates revenue from selling its service to academics, but has also struck partnerships with companies like Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer, and Biogen Idec, which use the company’s technology to help find patients who would best respond to their experimental drugs in clinical trials. The company isn’t alone in the space, however: South San Francisco-based Sequenta provides a similar service with a platform called Lymphosight.

Ben Fidler is Xconomy's Deputy Biotechnology Editor. You can e-mail him at bfidler@xconomy.com Follow @benthefidler

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