Epic Sciences Raises $13M, Advances Ultra-Sensitive Cell Diagnostics

Xconomy San Diego — 

[Corrected 11/14/12, 3:45 pm. See below.] Epic Sciences, a San Diego startup developing diagnostics to identify and analyze tumor cells and other rare cells from a blood sample, has raised $13 million in a Series B round of financing. Investors include Domain Associates, Roche Venture Fund, and Pfizer Venture Investments, and undisclosed individual investors, according to a statement from the company today.

As I explained in February, Epic was founded in 2008 with technology developed in the lab of Peter Kuhn, a cell biologist at The Scripps Research Institute (and San Diego Xconomist). He has described the approach, which employs high-definition imaging and high-performance computing to help analyze nucleated cells treated with fluorescing antibodies, as a “blood fluid biopsy.” The company says its approach can identify genomic biomarkers of circulating tumor cells (CTCs), such as the Her2 protein in breast cancer, providing the kind of specific information needed to determine which cancer drugs would be most effective.

David Nelson

“What we’re trying to provide is a real time biopsy of the disease that can be used to direct the right drug to the right patient at the right time,” says Epic CEO David Nelson, who spoke with me by phone this morning from Boston, where he’s attending the World Circulating Tumor Cells Summit. The power of the diagnostics lies in the ability to analyze CTCs over time, providing real-time information about the status of the disease and how well a prescribed course of treatment is working.

The technology represents a revolution in oncology, Nelson says, with the potential to … Next Page »

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