Seattle-Based TwinStrand Biosciences Raises $16 Million

By Dan Anderson ● January 16, 2020
  • Novel genetic sequencing technology company TwinStrand Biosciences announced it has raised $16 million in Series A funding

TwinStrand Biosciences — a novel genetic sequencing technology company — announced it has closed $16 million in Series A funding, including $12 million in new capital. Madrona Venture Group led the investment with participation from Alexandria Venture Investments, Ridgeback Capital and Sahsen Ventures.

This round of funding will be used for accelerating the company’s commercial pipeline as well as supporting the growth of corporate infrastructure and pharmaceutical partnerships.

The company is a spinout of The University of Washington. And it previously raised $5.5 million in a seed round of funding in addition to $6.4 million in SBIR grants to develop and commercialize its Duplex Sequencing technology.

“We are able to directly observe genetic phenomena in ways that have simply never been possible before,” said Dr. Jesse Salk, CEO, Chief Scientific Officer, and Co-founder of TwinStrand. “For example, typically, it takes years of testing to show that new drugs are safe from the perspective of cancer risk, at a cost of millions in research and development. We can now achieve this in days or weeks, with the ultimate goal of getting important drugs to patients much sooner. Similarly, we have now shown that it is possible to detect unrecognized carcinogen exposures in people, and we hope to use this to both help affected patients get care and to aid public health authorities in finding and eliminating carcinogens in the environment.”

Duplex Sequencing is known as biochemistry and software-based enhancements to existing DNA sequencing platforms that enable researchers and clinicians to detect genetic “needles in a haystack.” And by identifying ultra-low frequency DNA mutations with a resolution 10,000-fold greater than conventional tools on the market, clinically important decisions can be made with greater confidence.

This level of sensitivity and specificity is essential for a range of applications, including early cancer detection, monitoring for residual cancer after treatment, genetic toxicology, drug development, etc. And Duplex Sequencing identifies extremely rare mutations that go undetected by current next-generation sequencing (NGS) platforms.

TwinStrand’s executives have authored more than 15 peer-reviewed articles on Duplex Sequencing and have developed a portfolio of over 45 patents and patent applications. And the company is already collaborating with pharmaceutical companies, academic centers, clinical research networks, and federal regulatory agencies.

“Being able to read our DNA with the breakthrough accuracy of Duplex Sequencing will have a profound impact on each of our lives,” added Terry Myerson, Venture Partner at Madrona Venture Group. “TwinStrand’s innovation is at the forefront of the intersection of life sciences and computer science. We are excited to invest in the incredible team and opportunity ahead at TwinStrand.”