Contract genomics organization WuXi NextCODE has closed on a $75 million Series B financing from existing investors and partners, with plans to accelerate the growth of its global genomic data platform.
Temasek Holdings, a Singapore state-owned investment firm; and Yunfeng Capital, a Chinese private equity firm co-founded by billionaire Alibaba Group Chairman Jack Ma, co-led the financing. They were joined by investors that included include 3W Partners, a Greater China/cross-border focused private equity firm; and Amgen Ventures, the corporate venture capital fund of Amgen.
Amgen already had a presence in personalized medicine, having acquired deCODE Genetics in 2012 for $415 million. A deCODE spinout, NextCODE, was merged in 2015 with WuXi’s Genome Center to form WuXi NextCODE, after NextCODE Health was acquired by WuXi PharmaTech for $65 million.
WuXi NextCODE said proceeds from the financing would be used toward advancing the commercialization of its consumer solutions for the China market, as well as further strengthening its position in informatics, and expanding its capabilities in artificial intelligence and deep learning.
The company says its platform is designed to enable its partners to correlate genome and phenotype data at scale and speed, in population genomics projects, clinical diagnostics and applications, as well as scientific wellness. The platform includes proprietary tools that include a Clinical Sequence Analyzer interpretation and reporting system, a Sequence Miner enables you to identify key variants linked to patient phenotype, and a Tumor Mutation Analyzer designed to compare tumor and normal whole genome data backed with always-on reference to identify mutations driving individual tumors.
WuXi NextCODE is also using artificial intelligence through its DeepCODE algorithms, designed to use DNA, RNA, microarray and protein data to map pathways and identify signatures that can instantly and automatically classify disease. The algorithms are also designed to identify novel genomic variants to power improved healthcare through new diagnostic tests and detailed understanding of biological pathways.
According to its website, WuXi NextCODE’s first focus is to develop population-optimized diagnostics, carrier screening and whole-genome wellness scans for China.
The company’s products for that market include RareCODE, a pediatric rare disease clinical interpretation system developed with two of China’s largest children’s hospitals, Fudan and Ruijin. WuXi NextCODE says RareCODE can identify novel and de novo mutations, provide instant validation through unrivaled raw sequence, and allows custom knowledge base creation.
Also developed for China is HealthCODE, a whole-genome wellness scan designed to detect rare disease variants and carrier status, as well as common disease risk factors; and FamilyCODE, a carrier screen designed to detect known risk factors in the Chinese population for some 200 diseases.
“Through its comprehensive capabilities for digitizing, managing and analyzing genome data, WuXi NextCODE is uniquely positioned to build the open access and capability platform that enables any organization or individual to benefit from genomic big data," stated the company’s Chairman Ge Li, Ph.D., who is also founder and chairman of global contract research outsourcing provider WuXi AppTec.
Wuxi NextCODE has offices in Shanghai, Cambridge, MA, and Reykjavik, Iceland. The company says its capabilities span study design, sequencing, secondary analysis, storage, and interpretation and scalable analytics.