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Pleno Nets $40M Series A

BIOTECH: Leveraging Biology, Big Data

San Diego-based Pleno Inc., focused on biological target detection for clinical testing and biomedical research, has closed a $40 million Series A. The early-stage startup’s multi-omic instrument platform is “democratizing” target detection of biological markers for clinical testing and biomedical research, the company says.

Pleno’s proprietary ‘Hypercoding’ technology leverages signal processing techniques from the telecommunications industry to deliver targeted biological information at “unprecedented scale, precision and performance,” company officials said in a release announcing the round’s close.

The funding was led by Deerfield Management. Foresite Capital also participated in the Series A.

“Deerfield is proud to lead Pleno’s Series A financing,” said Andrew ElBardissi, MD, partner at Deerfield Management. “Pleno’s team has developed a versatile platform at the intersection of technology and life sciences which has the potential to disrupt existing sequencing and multi-omic approaches that are critical for drug development and clinical diagnostics.”

Launched in 1994, Deerfield Management Company is an investment firm dedicated to advancing healthcare through information, investment and philanthropy.

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Foresite Capital, founded in 2011, is a healthcare and life sciences-focused investment firm that uses a data science-driven approach to invest in companies that leverage biology and big data to transform healthcare.

Pleno’s unique enabling technology leverages signal processing techniques derived from the telecom industry to deliver ultra-high plexity targeted biological information – including DNA, RNA, methylation and proteomic content – at high throughput, increased precision and performance.

“We are incredibly excited to work with Deerfield Management and Foresite Capital as we continue to accelerate the development of our groundbreaking instrument platform,” said Pieter van Rooyen, founder and CEO at Pleno.

Prior to founding Pleno, van Rooyen, a graduate of the University of Johannesburg, co-founded Edico Genome, which was acquired by Illumina in 2018 for $100 million. He was also a co-founder of Truvian.

“The overwhelming interest already received from potential customers has clearly shown just how important this technology is and how much it is needed across a wide variety of applications, ranging from early cancer screening, NIPT and infectious diseases, to pharmacogenomics, proteomics and agrigenomics,” van Rooyen said about Pleno’s revolutionary instrument platform.

Enhancing Understanding

“Genotyping and sequencing have enhanced our understanding of the molecular drivers of disease and its response to treatment, particularly in oncology. Yet the cost and increasing complexity of these centralized measurements causes healthcare disparities,” said Dr. Vik Bajaj, managing director at Foresite Capital.

“The impressive work that Pieter and his team at Pleno are doing will potentially reduce costs and broaden access to these critical technologies for patients worldwide,” Bajaj added.

Van Rooyen said the newly raised funds will accelerate the development of Pleno’s Hypercoding instrument platform – called RAPTOR – which is slated for early customer access in 2023 and full availability in 2024.

RAPTOR is expected to deliver ultra-high target multiplexing combined with high dynamic range and very low limit of detection (LoD), while still being able to process anywhere from 8 to 384 samples per run.

Instrument run-times will range between 1 to 3 hours, depending on the level of target multiplexing, dynamic range and LoD required by each customer’s assay and application.

Pleno is headquartered in the Sorrento Mesa innovation hub amongst a robust talent pool of experienced scientists, telecommunication engineers and biotechnology innovators.

The company currently has 24 full-time employees and plans to continue to grow its team rapidly in the coming months, according to van Rooyen.

Pleno Inc.

FOUNDED: 2017
CEO: Pieter van Rooyen
HEADQUARTERS: Sorrento Mesa
EMPLOYEES: 24
BUSINESS: Platform to produce targeted biological information
WEBSITE: www.plenoinc.com
NOTABLE: Prior to founding Pleno, Pieter van Rooyen co-founded Edico Genome, which was acquired by Illumina in 2018 for $100 million.

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