Cynvenio Raises Capital, Enters Into Pact With Cancer Patient Exchange Firm

Cynvenio Biosystems has raised $35.5 million in second-round private equity funding and has struck an agreement with another company to help place its patients into clinical trials.

The funding for the Westlake Village, Calif.-based Cynvenio came from several venture capital funds, but most notably from Livzon Pharmaceutical Group, Inc., a Chinese-based drug company, which is investing $10 million. That money will be used to offer testing in China, although few details were available.

"This gives Cynvenio a firm foothold in the world’s largest market in terms of addressable patient populations," said the company’s Chief Executive Officer, André de Fusco, in a statement.

Cynvenio specializes in what are known as "liquid biopsies"—blood draws for cancer detection and analysis. Its test, known as ClearID, is able to analyze germline DNA and DNA from circulating tumor cells and provide rapid test results and recommendations for treatment.

In addition, Cynvenio also announced it had come to terms with Cure Forward, a Cambridge, Mass.-based startup, for potential patient referrals. Cure Forward, which calls itself a "patient activation" service, acts as a clearinghouse of sorts for cancer patients, referring them to labs for personalized medicine tests, as well as potential clinical trials for treatment. A recent Harris Interactive survey of cancer patients concluded that only about 15 percent were aware that a clinical trial could be an option for care.

"We are excited to work with Cynvenio to open the doors of genomic medicine so that more patients can find insights and options that shape their care," said Cure Forward Chief Executive Officer Martin Naley in a statement.

In an email response to questions from Laboratory Industry Report, Naley said Cure Forward had reached pacts with "a broad range of commercial and academic testing labs," and that more such agreements would be announced in the coming months. Its patient referral platform is currently in beta testing and is expected to be fully operational in September.

The company expects initially to derive revenue from payments from companies that perform recruitments from clinical trials, according to Naley, although other revenue streams will be developed in the future, he added.

In addition to announcing the agreement with Cynvenio, Cure Forward also received $15 million in first round funding from Apple Tree Partners, a Princeton, N.J.-based venture capital firm that focuses on pharmaceutical and biotech firms.

"Cure Forward addresses a profound need to connect patients with therapies tailored specifically to their disease. Empowering patients with this access will further accelerate the innovative research needed to advance toward cures and, most importantly, save lives," said Aaron Kantoff, vice president of Apple Tree Partners and a member of the Cure Forward board of directors, in a statement.

Takeaway: Cure Forward could act as an information hub for cancer patients in need of personalized medicine and molecular testing.

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