T2 Biosystems Nails Down $15M For Portable Diagnostic with the Punch of a Desktop

T2 Biosystems has been quiet for a while, but it’s making some noise today. The Cambridge, MA-based developer of a portable diagnostic machine has raised $15 million to carry on its quest for a diagnostic tool that that can beat workhorse laboratory machines on versatility, speed, and price.

Physic Ventures led the round, which included new investors Arcus Ventures, RA Capital, Camros Capital, WS Investments. The round also included T2’s existing backers, Flagship Ventures, Polaris Venture Partners, Flybridge Capital Partners, and Partners Healthcare. The company has now raised about $31 million total since it was founded in 2006. As we’ve pointed out before, there is plenty of intellectual capital lined up behind T2. The company’s advisors include Tyler Jacks, the director of MIT’s Center for Cancer Research; Ralph Weissleder, head of Mass General Hospital’s Center for Molecular Imaging Research; and MIT’s indefatigable bioengineering professor, Robert Langer.

T2 is what Harvard Business School professor Clay Christensen would call a “disruptive” technology, not the kind of more incremental, sustaining kind of innovations that big companies often pursue. This startup is attempting to commercialize technology will identify a huge range of biological substances—proteins, small molecules, viruses, DNA—in a handheld instrument. It aims to do all of this in a machine that costs less than $50,000, a tool that eliminates time-consuming and sometimes costly sample preparation steps, and that can give an answer in the lab, or the back of an ambulance or a jeep, in less than an hour. This technology, if proven in further trials, seeks to be better, faster, and cheaper than the classic optical-based diagnostic machines sold by giants like Becton Dickinson and Abbott Laboratories.

“No one else can do DNA and protein in a single instrument, and no one can get results faster than us,” says T2 Biosystems CEO John McDonough.

The difference with this mini-lab tool is so big, McDonough says, that it can change the way scientists, first-responders, and physicians find out exactly what they are dealing with. “The user can now see the problem and act on it. If you have to send in a sample to a central lab and it takes three days to get a test back, a lot of times you won’t even go through with the test.”

What T2 is up against is an existing paradigm of optical detection machines that are big, powerful, and cost about $250,000, McDonough says. They typically require … Next Page »

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