ACT Genomics ropes in $8M for cancer molecular Dx in first private funding round

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Taiwan-based ACT Genomics raked in $8 million in the company's first private funding round, giving the company a boost as it looks to ramp up development for its molecular diagnostic cancer assays.

The fresh infusion of funding will support ACT's new portfolio of molecular diagnostic products for cancer monitoring and will fuel expansion of its sales, marketing and medical team, the company said in a statement. ACT is hard at work on two cancer diagnostic tests, ACTDrug and ACTOnco, which use next-generation sequencing and multiplex molecular testing platforms to analyze clinical samples for tumor alterations in more than 400 cancer-related genes. Information from the tests could help companies develop personalized cancer treatments and identify potential biomarkers for companion diagnostics.

"The R&D progress we made in the past 6 months has impressed the existing and new investors," Hua-Chien Chen, ACT Genomics' CEO, said in a statement. "The additional capital will allow us to continue building robust molecular assays and innovative bioinformatics engine to integrate genome guided medicine database."

More cash in its vault could help ACT compete in a growing market, as big names such as Roche ($RHHBY), Illumina ($ILMN) and HTG Molecular Diagnostics vie for their piece of the pie. Cancer profiling comprises an estimated $17.8 billion of the global molecular market, and the sector is anticipated to grow by $35 billion by 2018. In January, HTG filed plans for a $60 million IPO to fuel development for its next-generation molecular profiling technology. The company's HTG Edge platform covers a wide variety of sample types, DNA mutations and analysis of cell-free circulating DNA from liquid biopsies.

Roche is also charting progress in the field, snatching up a majority share in Foundation Medicine ($FMI) in January for $1 billion plus milestones to bolster its diagnostic offerings for cancer. The deal stands to benefit both sides, as Roche can ramp up Foundation's molecular information and genomic analysis platforms and Foundation can help Roche develop innovative treatment options for cancer patients.

Earlier this week, Roche strengthened its footprint in the market by scooping up Germany's Signature Diagnostics to get its hands on the company's innovative sequencing technology. Under the deal, Roche will use samples from Signature's blood plasma and tissue biobanks to develop circulating cell free DNA tests to noninvasively monitor patients with cancer.

- read the release

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