Valar Labs: Computational Cancer Therapy AI Company Raises $22 Million

By Amit Chowdhry • Jun 3, 2024

Valar Labs, the developer of computational histology AI (CHAI) tests for predicting response to cancer therapies, announced $22 million in Series A funding.

The Series A funding round was led by leading venture capital firms DCVC and Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) Bio + Health with participation from Pear VC. Vineeta Agarwala, MD, PhD, General Partner at a16z Bio + Health, and James Hardiman, General Partner at DCVC, will be joining the Board of Directors.

This funding round follows Valar Labs’ completion of a recent international, multi-institution validation study and subsequent launch of Vesta (the first AI-based diagnostic test to predict response to first-line treatment in bladder cancer).

The Vesta validation study of CHAI biomarkers was recently announced by the company and presented at the American Urological Association (AUA) 2024 Annual Meeting. And the study demonstrated the biomarkers’ ability to outperform commonly used clinical parameters and demonstrated significant predictive ability across all relevant patient demographics.

Since the $4 million seed financing led by a16z in 2022, Valar Labs has published over a dozen peer reviewed publications and abstracts demonstrating that the technology they have developed can be used to accurately predict patient outcomes on several therapeutic regimens, across several major cancer types. And Valar’s diagnostic tests could thus inform precision selection of treatments for a broad range of cancer patients.


“We see Valar as a leader in an emerging group of TechMed startups that harness AI and the power of data to augment physicians’ capabilities. Histology has always been one of the keys to diagnosing cancer, but Valar Labs is showing that there are unexpected depths in the digital slides pathologists review every day. And bladder cancer is only the beginning; we can’t wait to see where they take the technology next.”

– James Hardiman, general partner at DCVC

“The introduction of Vesta is a paradigm shift for how we can best serve our bladder cancer patients. Its ability to predict response to BCG treatment is invaluable particularly amidst the current nationwide BCG shortage. This ensures every patient receives personalized and highly effective treatment.”

– Dr. Jay Shah, a urologist at Stanford Healthcare

“Valar Labs could transform how we approach cancer treatment decisions for a large number of patients today. By combining readily available tissue histology images with AI-driven insights, Valar is enabling physicians to deliver the precision oncology care that every patient deserves: matching the right treatment, to the right patient, at the right time.”

– Vineeta Agarwala, MD, PhD, general partner at a16z Bio + Health

“Every day, oncologists are faced with challenging decisions for millions of cancer patients to determine which treatment pathway is most likely to be effective for a given patient. At Valar Labs, our aim is to provide every oncologist and cancer patient around the world with diagnostics that can help inform these critical decisions… Over the last couple of years, we have been able to demonstrate that quantitative AI analysis of H&E stained tumor histology slides can prognosticate outcomes and predict response to treatment. We have assembled a cohort of 1000+ patients with bladder cancer across 4 continents, and published our analysis showing that the Vesta assay can identify patients who would have more aggressive disease progression under standard of care treatment regimens, and who could benefit from other earlier interventions. Vesta is the first-ever, AI-based oncology test to be clinically offered in this disease and we are incredibly excited about the impact it could have for patients and providers. We have also demonstrated that Valar’s approach generalizes to several other tumor types (such as pancreatic cancer) through multiple publications and data that we have been fortunate to present alongside our collaborators at national oncology conferences over the past few years.”

– Company founders in a blog post