Startups, Diagnostics

Liquid biopsy firm Thrive launches with $110M Series A round

The company has a 10,000-patient prospective trial with Geisinger fully enrolled to test CancerSEEK, a test developed at Johns Hopkins University.

A new company developing a liquid biopsy test has launched, and it has already completed enrollment in a study of more than 10,000 patients.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Thrive Earlier Detection launched Thursday with a $110 million Series A funding round. As its name suggests, the company is developing a a liquid biopsy test, CancerSEEK, designed to detect multiple cancer types at earlier stages of the disease.

Third Rock Ventures led the round, with participation by Section 32, Casdin Capital, Biomatics Capital, BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners, Invus, Exact Sciences, Cowin Venture, Camden Partners and Gamma 3, among others.

The company’s focus in the near term is to move CancerSEEK into a registration-enabling study, build and scale operations and continue research and development for the product, CEO Steve Kafka wrote in an interview. “We will continue ongoing partnering discussions with health systems, payers and potentially biopharma as well,” he added.

The biopsy, developed at Johns Hopkins University, uses what the company calls a highly targeted set of DNA and protein measurements from the blood and, according to a retrospective study published in the journal Science last year, has greater than 99 percent specificity that could reduce the false-positive results that occur with early cancer screening tools. The company plans to combine CancerSEEK with real-world data and machine learning as well. The study, which took place in 1,005 patients with non-metastatic cancers of the ovaries, liver, stomach, pancreas and esophagus, resulted in positive scores for only seven of the 812 healthy participants in the control arm. Sensitivity for the different cancer types ranged from 69 percent to 98 percent.

Other companies in the liquid biopsy space include Guardant Health and Grail. Last month, Guardant Health announced a study of its Guardant360 test, comparing it against standard tissue testing and showing that the liquid biopsy performed better in terms of speed and picking up actionable mutations. However, that test was being used in patients with metastatic, rather than early cancers. By contrast, Grail is more focused on early detection.

Photo: MilosJokic, Getty Images