Veritas Genetics draws $30 million in funding
Veritas Genetics, a two-year-old startup that offers whole genome sequencing to consumers for under $1,000, said Monday it raised $30 million from a trio of investors.
The Danvers-based company was founded by Harvard Medical School genetics professor George Church, and last year gathered $12 million from Lilly Asia Ventures, a Shanghai-based affiliate of US drug maker Eli Lilly & Co. that is a leading biomedical investor.
Asian investors also figured heavily in the new funding round, led by Trustbridge Partners, a private equity firm with offices in Boston and Shanghai. Trustbridge was joined by Lilly Asia and Jiangsu Simcere Pharmaceutical of Nanjing, one of China’s largest drug companies.
Veritas will use the money to offer its genetic tests outside the United States, expand its operations in Danvers and Hangzhou, China, set up a third site in Europe, and create a “digital engagement platform” to interact with consumers seeking tests.
Whole genome sequencing screens every gene in an individual’s DNA to get information on genetic risks for scores of clinically relevant conditions. The screenings are available from several companies and academic centers at a cost of several thousand dollars. Veritas in March launched what it said was the first US consumer product for $999, including screening, analysis, and genetic counseling.
Executives said hundreds of people have been screened this year, though they declined to provide a specific number, and said they have a backlog of customers. Consumers sign up on the company’s website but are asked to get the approval of their physicians. They now pay for the test out of pocket, though Veritas thinks health insurers will eventually reimburse members.
“We’re a little surprised by the level of demand,” said Veritas chief commercial officer Doug Flood. “We have not seen any competitors that have been able to do the genetic interpretations for the same price that we offer. We’re bringing whole genome sequencing international.”
In addition to whole genome sequencing, the company markets tests for breast, ovarian, and other cancers, and for expectant mothers and newborns to determine risks for hereditary diseases.
The company employs about 30 people in Danvers and another 20 in Hangzhou, but it expects to double its staff during the coming year.