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of companies in the diagnostics field that have either recently gone public, like Seattle-based Nanostring Technologies (NASDAQ: NTSG) and South San Francisco-based VeraCyte (NASDAQ: VCYT)—or which plan to, like San Francisco-based CardioDx. All of which suggests RainDance might soon join the busy queue.
RainDance provides tools used by research labs and diagnostics companies that are supposed to make their tests easier and cheaper to run. Its core digital PCR technology, dubbed RainDrop, separates patients’ bloods or urine samples and breaks them down into millions of individual micro-droplets that each contain a DNA sample. Each droplet is then merged with another one equipped with a reagent, forming millions of tiny test tubes that researchers can use to perform diagnostic tests. This system can potentially be used to obtain “liquid biopsies,” using samples of blood or other fluids to detect certain cancers rather than surgically extracting tissue samples from a patient.
In addition to its core technology, RainDance also sells a second product, the ThunderStorm high-throughput sequencing system. Most recently, it developed ThunderBolts, a cancer assay that runs on its digital PCR system that researchers could use to screen for 49 known cancer genes and tumor suppressors, certain cancer drug resistance markers, and “hotspots” of the genome that are often mutated in cancer. The assay costs as little as $100 per sample, according to Banerjee.
RainDance will use the cash for a few different things. One would be to expand its pool of customers from commercial laboratories and major cancer and sequencing centers, to entities in the molecular pathology community, cancer bio-banks, and pharma/biotech companies. RainDance will also continue building out its manufacturing operations and develop new assays and systems with the help of the funding as well.
In addition to Myriad, GE and Northgate, RainDance, which started up in 2004, is also backed by Mohr Davidow Ventures, Quaker BioVentures, Alloy Ventures, Acadia Woods Partners, and Sectoral Asset Management.