GRAIL Ramps Up Data Science Cancer Detection with $900M Round

April 27, 2017

GRAIL, a life sciences company whose mission is to detect cancer early when it can be cured,has commenced its second multi-center clinical study, the STRIVE Study, to facilitate the development of GRAIL’s blood tests for early-stage cancer detection. STRIVE is a longitudinal, prospective, observational study that will enroll up to 120,000 women at the time of their screening mammogram to train and validate a blood test to detect breast cancer. Additionally, the study will be used to develop a pan-cancer test to detect multiple cancers at early stages.

“Breast cancer that is detected early can be treated more effectively. GRAIL aims to develop a blood test to enhance existing methods of breast cancer screening, with the goal of improving patient outcomes by more accurately identifying patients who need further evaluation for cancer,” said Mark Lee, M.D., Ph.D., GRAIL’s Head of Clinical Development and Medical Affairs. “We are committed to developing a deep understanding of cancer biology and rigorously evaluating our tests for validity and utility through large studies such as STRIVE.”

The STRIVE Study will enroll women at Mayo Clinic and throughout the Sutter Health system that serves Northern California, and will collect baseline blood samples from women at the time of their screening mammogram.

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in both developed and less developed countries around the globe. Despite many medical and therapeutic advances in treatment, approximately 40,000 women in the U.S. will die from breast cancer this year and many others will require treatment for advanced disease,” said Steven Cummings, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology & Biostatistics (Emeritus), UCSF, and Senior Scientist, California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, Sutter Health. “I am excited to be part of this initiative to apply new technology to the possibility of detecting breast cancer, and other cancers, at earlier stages.”

“In order to develop and validate a blood test for the early detection of breast cancer, we need the participation of up to 120,000 women. GRAIL’s cutting-edge clinical technology enables us to enroll at scale and speed while collecting high-quality clinical outcomes data,” said GRAIL’s Head of Clinical Development, Anne-Renee Hartman, M.D. “We are extremely honored to work with Sutter Health and Mayo Clinic on this endeavor and are thankful for the centers and participants who make this study possible.”

The STRIVE Study is one of several studies that GRAIL plans to initiate over the next few years. In December 2016, GRAIL announced its first multi-center clinical study, the Circulating Cell-free Genome Atlas (CCGA) (CCGA) study to characterize the landscape of cell-free nucleic acid profiles in individuals with cancer and in non-cancer participants using GRAIL’s “high-intensity” sequencing approach. Mayo Clinic is one of the main academic sites for the CCGA study, and Dr. Minetta Liu, who is a Principal Investigator for STRIVE, serves on the CCGA Scientific Advisory Board. GRAIL intends to conduct additional studies that, in aggregate, will enroll hundreds of thousands of participants, in order to achieve its mission of detecting cancer early, when it can be cured.

GRAIL has raised over $900 million through the first close of its previously announced Series B financing which was led by ARCH Venture Partners and includes Johnson & Johnson Innovation as the largest investor in the financing. The initial close also includes world-class strategic pharmaceutical, technology and financial investors. GRAIL anticipates a second close, with Goldman, Sachs & Co. acting as a placement agent, that will include additional institutional investors globally.

“We envision a global community that benefits from early-stage cancer detection where fewer individuals face the anguish of late-stage diagnosis and devastating outcomes,” said Jeff Huber, GRAIL’s Chief Executive Officer. “I believe that GRAIL’s approach leveraging high-intensity sequencing, population-scale clinical studies, and state of the art Computer Science and Data Science is unparalleled in the field of cancer detection. Our team made tremendous progress in 2016 and I look forward to additional clinical and strategic milestones.”

In addition to ARCH Venture Partners and Johnson & Johnson Innovation, the strategic investors participating in the first close include Amazon, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene, McKesson Ventures, Merck (known as MSD outside the United States and Canada), Tencent Holdings Limited and Varian Medical Systems, Inc. GRAIL intends to close the remainder of the Series B investment prior to the end of the first quarter of 2017 from qualified investors.

“This cadre of world-class investors is a testament to their shared belief in our goal to reduce global cancer mortality through early detection,” said Ken Drazan, GRAIL’s Chief Business Officer. “Notably, the financing includes a broad spectrum of pharmaceutical and technology companies who, in the second close, will be joined by successful institutional investors in the life science space.”

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