Karius, a developer of liquid biopsies designed to enable non-invasive detection of infectious diseases, said today it has completed a $165 million Series B financing. [seksan Mongkhonkhamsao / Getty Images]

Karius, a developer of liquid biopsies designed to enable non-invasive detection of infectious diseases, said today it has completed a $165 million Series B financing.

Proceeds from the financing will allow the company to expand access to its proprietary microbial cell-free DNA (mcfDNA) technology, as well as advance clinical development, and accelerate innovation, Karius said.

“We are humbled to be part of the team that delivered the first clinical applications of microbial cell-free DNA and are excited about what’s ahead for Karius,” CEO Mickey Kertesz said in a statement.

Karius says its liquid biopsy uses novel genomics and artificial intelligence to inform doctors about the likely types and quantities of infectious microorganisms affecting their patients by identifying and measuring the mcfDNA of more than 1,000 clinically relevant pathogens—including bacteria, fungi, DNA viruses, and parasites—from a single blood draw.

In February 2019, the journal Nature Microbiology published an analytical and clinical validation study of the Karius Test, showing that the test more accurately and rapidly identified the likely pathogens causing an infection compared to standard methods.

“The test showed 93.7% agreement with blood culture in a cohort of 350 patients with a sepsis alert and identified an independently adjudicated cause of the sepsis alert more often than all of the microbiological testing combined (169 aetiological determinations versus 132),” researchers from Karius and Stanford University reported in the validation study.

More than 85% of Karius Test results were delivered the day after sample receipt, the study added.

More recently, peer-reviewed studies showed real-world clinical utility of the Karius Test in various populations with serious illnesses. In a study published in July 2019 in Open Forum Infectious Diseases, the Karius Test non-invasively identified the pathogen causing infection in immuno-compromised pediatric patients more frequently than invasive procedures, and even more frequently than all microbiological tests combined. Nearly two-thirds of the invasive diagnostic procedures performed in these pediatric patients might have been avoided based on the Karius Test results, researchers reported.

Additional studies have supported use of Karius Test in applications that include complex pneumonia, invasive fungal infections, and endocarditis—demonstrating the value of mcfDNA to help clinicians rapidly make critical treatment decisions, Karius added.

Based in Redwood City, CA, Karius was founded in 2014 to commercialize technology developed by the lab of Stephen Quake, Ph.D., the company’s scientific co-founder and co-president of Chan Zuckerberg Biohub.

The new funding round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2, with additional participation from General Catalyst, HBM Healthcare Investments, and existing investors Khosla Ventures and LightSpeed Venture Partners.

LightSpeed and Data Collective co-led Karius’ $50 million in Series A financing, completed in 2017.

“Next-generation sequencing (NGS) has already transformed diagnostics through non-invasive prenatal testing and liquid biopsies for oncology,” stated Chandra P. Leo, Investment Advisor at HBM Partners. “Karius is now applying the power of NGS of microbial cell-free DNA to the field of infectious disease diagnostics, helping physicians to non-invasively identify a broad range of pathogens in severely ill patients.”

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