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Harbinger Health raises $140 million for blood test to screen for cancers

Sara Fulton, a molecular technologist at Harbinger Health, performs DNA purification, an essential step to identifying genetic markers of cancer in blood. The Cambridge biotech has raised $140 million to complete the study of a blood test it developed to screen for cancers in people without symptoms.Harbinger Health

A Cambridge biotech run by the former head of the Food and Drug Administration has raised $140 million to complete the study of a blood test it developed to screen for cancers in people without symptoms.

Harbinger Health, founded in 2020 by Flagship Pioneering, the venture capital giant that created the vaccine-maker Moderna, is testing the cancer screening technology in a clinical trial of 10,000 volunteers. Some trial results are expected next year.

Harbinger wants to market a blood-based test that can detect multiple types of cancer, including tumors of the lung and pancreas, that are often detected too late for patients to survive.

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“We do a pretty good job of diagnosing stage 3 and stage 4 lung cancer, but we’ve got to do it in stage 1 or stage 2,” said Dr. Stephen Hahn, Harbinger’s chief executive officer.

Hahn served as FDA commissioner during the last 13 months of the Trump administration. A radiation oncologist, he previously served as chief medical executive at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Harbinger, which is located in West Cambridge, has about 60 employees and plans to hire another 20 by the end of the year, Hahn said.

Multiple investors contributed to the fundraising round, including Flagship, Pictet, Partners Investment, and Catalyst at M&G Investments. All told, Harbinger has now raised roughly $190 million.


Jonathan Saltzman can be reached at jonathan.saltzman@globe.com.