Thrive raises $110 million to roll out diagnostic tool CancerSEEK

June 12, 2019
Updated: June 13, 2019
Written by Folake Dosu

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Increasing early diagnosis of cancer has the potential to radically transform the survival rates for cancer patients. Health tech companies are also increasingly rising to these challenges in incredible ways.

Medical research company Thrive Earlier Detection recently announced that the company is rolling out its liquid biopsy test, CancerSEEK, with a new $110 million round of funding. A retrospective study published by Science in 2018 found that CancerSEEK had a demonstrated specificity of 99%, overcoming the common issue of false positives that plagues such tests.

Founders Dr. Bert Vogelstein, Dr. Kenneth Kinzler and Dr. Nickolas Papadopoulos, professors and researchers at Johns Hopkins University, spent nearly 30 years conducting the research that underpins CancerSEEK. The tool analyzes specific genomic mutations in circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) and cancer-associated protein markers in plasma to spot abnormalities to diagnose ovarian, liver, stomach, pancreas and esophageal cancers.

“Over the past 30 years we have made great strides in understanding cancer. Combining this knowledge with the latest in molecular testing technologies, our founders have developed a simple and affordable blood test for the detection of many cancers at relatively early stages,” said Christoph Lengauer, PhD, partner at Third Rock Ventures, and co-founder and chief innovation officer of Thrive, in a press statement. 

“We envision a future where routine preventative care includes a blood test for cancer, just as patients are now routinely tested for early stages of heart disease. We know that if cancer is caught early enough, it can often be cured.”

“We envision a future where routine preventative care includes a blood test for cancer, just as patients are now routinely tested for early stages of heart disease. We know that if cancer is caught early enough, it can often be cured.”

DETECT, a study of 10,000 currently healthy individuals co-led by healthcare organization Geisinger, is currently evaluating the tool.

“To be truly useful to patients, new medical technology must be developed with rigorous evidence and designed to be affordable and readily integrated into routine medical care,” Steven J. Kafka, PhD, partner at Third Rock Ventures and chief executive officer of Thrive, added.

Leading the round was Third Rock Ventures, and other investors included Bill Maris’ Section 32 investment firm, Casdin Capital, Biomatics Capital, BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners, Invus, Exact Sciences, Cowin Venture, Camden Partners, Gamma 3 LLC and others.

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