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Nucleix Raises $55M for Early Detection of Lung Cancer

Nucleix, a liquid biopsy company that is innovating cancer treatment with earlier disease detection, secured $55 million to finance the development of its lead product, Lung EpiCheck.
 
The oversubscribed funding round was led by RA Capital Management, and included new life science investors and funds managed by BlackRock, Lilly Asia Ventures, LYFE Capital and MILFAM. According to a company spokesperson, Nucleix has raised approximately $94 million in funding to date.


Founded in 2008 with headquarters in San Diego and Rehovot, Israel, the emerging biotech will use this investment to advance the Lung EpiCheck platform as a highly sensitive, easily deployed and cost-effective test for early cancer detection said Chris Hibberd, chief executive officer of Nucleix.


“Early detection of cancer from a blood sample is like listening for a whisper in a crowded room – you need to separate a faint signal from considerable background noise,” Hibberd said. “EpiCheck minimizes sample loss and background noise while detecting minute cancer epigenetic signals with greater sensitivity than other technologies.”


Earlier Detection


The Lung EpiCheck test employs NGS and PCR-based technology for the highly sensitive analysis of subtle, disease-specific changes in DNA methylation markers. The EpiCheck technology examines the sample’s DNA sequence — which is almost identical throughout the body’s tissues — and looks for broad changes in the methylation pattern which can be a marker for cancer.


The industry standard for detecting lung cancer is a CT scan which remains a viable option, but it can also pose a challenge of accessibility to patients and their willingness to get it done.


“What we’re looking at is a simple blood test…really to find those high-risk patients and really drive them to that pathway that can save lives,” Hibberd said.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who smoke cigarettes are 15 to 30 times more likely to get lung cancer than those who do not smoke. Hibberd added that early detection of lung cancer in these high-risk patients can mean you have 10 times the survival rate in five years compared to identifying it in a later stage.


Back in October, Nucleix published in the European Respiratory Journal (ERJ) the first data for Lung EpiCheck which showed 85% detection of early-stage lung cancer in high-risk smokers.


Growth and Development


Going forward, Hibberd said Nucleix will use the new infusion of funding to gather more data and conduct clinical trials that illustrate the effectiveness of the test assay for these high-risk populations. He added that the PCR element of the technology is also an important part of their goal to make a test that performs well and can be widely available at a reasonable cost.


Hibberd joined Nucleix in August 2019 as executive chairman and with more than 20 years of experience in the biotech and medical device industry, he has seen the company through a period of growth and innovation since assuming the role of CEO in January 2020.

 
This year, Nucleix opened a new office in Sorrento Valley and with 33 employees based in San Diego, Hibberd said they plan to do more hiring over the next year.

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