ReadCoor, Inc., Announces Launch from Wyss Institute Following Completion of Series A Financing Round
Boston-based startup completes $23 million Series A financing to leverage novel imaging platform of gene locations towards gaining diagnostic insights and delivering therapeutics for cancer, immuno-oncology, infectious diseases, neurological and neuromuscular diseases, brain function and cognitive disorders
Cambridge, Mass. September 28, 2016 -- (BUSINESS WIRE) -- ReadCoor, Inc., today announced completion of an oversubscribed $23 million Series A financing round and its concurrent launch from Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. ReadCoor will commercialize the Wyss Institute’s FISSEQ (fluorescent in situ sequencing) technology.
FISSEQ is a high throughput spatial gene sequencing technology that simultaneously reads the sequences of thousands of RNAs – the working copies of genes – and visualizes their three-dimensional coordinates within whole cells and tissues, a capability that stands to revolutionize clinical diagnostics and drug discovery. ReadCoor has entered into a worldwide licensing agreement with Harvard's Office of Technology Development, securing exclusive rights to FISSEQ technology.
The financing, led by Decheng Capital and joined by Lilly Asia Ventures, Vivo Capital, and Hansjörg Wyss, will support development and commercialization of a new generation sequencing platform. “ReadCoor offers a truly revolutionary approach to address a huge unmet need in both research and clinical diagnostics,” said Min Cui, Managing Director at Decheng Capital. “We are very excited to be a part of the company and support its dynamic team.” ReadCoor also announced that Decheng Partner Victor Tong and Vivo Partner Yuh-geng Tsay will join the company's board of directors.
“The FISSEQ platform has been incubating within the Wyss Institute for several years under the direction of an immensely talented team of scientists and engineers with extensive expertise in next-gen sequencing,” said ReadCoor’s CEO Shawn Marcell, who until now has been focused on translating FISSEQ as an Entrepreneur-In-Residence at the Wyss Institute. “This has positioned us to begin providing sequencing services to academia and industry almost immediately, and shipping early commercial systems in the near future.”
Invented by a team headed by Wyss Core Faculty member and ReadCoor co-founder George Church, FISSEQ is currently in use by a Wyss-led consortium mapping neuronal connectomics to discover the brain’s learning patterns and synaptic design, toward the goal of advancing neural-derived machine learning algorithms. The project is funded by IARPA (Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity).
“FISSEQ is the next step in the evolution of sequencing technology – arising from 17 years of progress since the dawn of next-generation sequencing,” said Church, who is Chairman of the ReadCoor Scientific Advisory Board, and also Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, Professor of Health Sciences and Technology at MIT, and Senior Associate Faculty member at the Broad Institute. “We are opening the door to a truly ‘pan-omic’ view of all biological molecules and interactions within cells and tissues, powering numerous research discoveries and clinical applications.”
FISSEQ’s comprehensive view of gene expression within cells and tissues provides insights into biological complexity that, until now, have not been possible. Currently available sequencing technologies can only provide sequencing information, not spatial information. FISSEQ provides both, representing the first true merging of imaging and sequencing.
“Locating the products of genes is everything,” said Richard Terry, Lead Senior Scientist at the Wyss Institute. “By offering FISSEQ systems, spatial sequencing services, and diagnostics to our customers, ReadCoor will give neurologists, cancer researchers, clinicians, geneticists, and others the 3D coordinates of working genes that will inform their work in new ways.” Terry, who founded ReadCoor with Church and Marcell, is moving to the company as its President and Chief Technology Officer.
FISSEQ is designed to analyze diverse tissue types and has already been evaluated in many different kinds of cell and tissue samples. To date, the technology has demonstrated its utility for an extensive set of applications, especially oncology. Recent data from a breast cancer study conducted using FISSEQ has revealed groundbreaking new information about tumor development, with the results of the study slated to publish next year.
FISSEQ is also positioned to create enormous value in pharmaceutical development by aiding pathway analysis and target identification, including evaluation and validation of new drug targets. Numerous other potential applications include pathogen identification and disease diagnosis, the advancement of regenerative medicine, as well as new discoveries in immuno-oncology, gene therapy, brain diseases, and central nervous system/neurological disorders.
ReadCoor is leading the next generation of “omics” by delivering the first panomic spatial sequencing platform to the global audience of researchers, clinicians, pharma and diagnostics companies, and ultimately patients. It is accomplishing this with FISSEQ, a fundamental new technology which simultaneously integrates high throughput sequencing, morphometric analysis, cellular location and three-dimensional spatial imaging. This uniquely powerful tool is the first and only implementation of “In-situ Sequencing” and will revolutionize the next phase in understanding the transcriptome, introducing vast new opportunities for important and meaningful clinical insight.
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