Bid­ding to be the go-to ge­nomics and da­ta part­ner for drug de­vel­op­ment, Sophia Ge­net­ics rais­es $100M

Ju­r­gi Cam­b­long has spent the last decade go­ing from mi­nor fund­ing round to mi­nor fund­ing round for his start­up, Sophia Ge­net­ics, adding hos­pi­tals in the UK, US, and Latin Amer­i­ca and ex­pand­ing the plat­form to han­dle more and more da­ta. Now, Cam­b­long says, the com­pa­ny has spread far enough and has now raised plen­ty of cash to clear one of its last hur­dles.

In the sixth and largest fund­ing round in their 9-year his­to­ry, Sophia Ge­net­ics has raised $110 mil­lion to push for­ward its AI-based plat­form for ge­net­ic med­i­cine with a re­newed fo­cus on tak­ing their es­tab­lished in­fra­struc­ture and us­ing it help bio­phar­ma col­lect ev­i­dence and de­sign tri­als. The round was led the Is­raeli firm aMoon and the Japan­ese firm Hi­tachi Ven­tures.

Ju­r­gi Cam­b­long

The goal is “to be in the po­si­tion of Google,” Cam­b­long told End­points. “You see many com­pa­nies are build­ing tech­nolo­gies for bio­phar­ma and then try­ing to de­ploy them first in the US and then in Eu­rope, right? And that’s some­thing we’re do­ing com­plete­ly in re­verse.”

Sophia’s pitch is one biotechs and Big Phar­ma re­ceive of­ten these days: There’s all this new ge­net­ic in­for­ma­tion out there and all these tech­nolo­gies to track how pa­tients do in­side and out­side clin­i­cal tri­als; we have the plat­form that can ag­gre­gate all that da­ta and spit out an­swers on every­thing from how your drug is per­form­ing to how to best de­sign those tri­als.

Ae­tion, one of the hottest US star­tups, at­tract­ed for­mer FDA chief Scott Got­tlieb to its board and scored part­ner­ships with the agency on the promis­ing of us­ing re­al-world da­ta to trans­form drug de­vel­op­ment. Chica­go-based Tem­pus, which al­so added Got­tlieb to its board last year, has raised over $600 mil­lion and racked up a string of high-pro­file aca­d­e­m­ic part­ner­ships on a promise more di­rect­ly sim­i­lar to Sophia Ge­net­ics.

Cam­b­long, though, says that it has an ad­van­tage: the size it’s slow­ly ac­crued over the last 9 years. The com­pa­ny’s list­ed 1,000 hos­pi­tals as al­ready us­ing their plat­form to track pa­tients, sev­er­al hun­dred of them in the US, and claims to screen 17,000 genomes per day. Be­cause they have al­ready gath­ered that much da­ta and en­tered that many hos­pi­tals, they say they can pro­vide more in­for­ma­tion than oth­er com­pa­nies might. And al­though they’ve long been fo­cused pri­mar­i­ly on ge­nom­ic da­ta — hence the name — they say they can al­so use this in­fra­struc­ture to gath­er re­al-world da­ta to show whether a drug is per­form­ing bet­ter than an­oth­er post-ap­proval.

“Our plat­form is the most used world­wide,” he said. “Now that we’re in the po­si­tion we are, we can lever­age on these as­sets.”

Still, Sophia Ge­net­ics is hard­ly alone in boast­ing about size. Tem­pus claims to have the “largest li­brary of clin­i­cal and mol­e­c­u­lar da­ta.” And Cam­b­long ac­knowl­edges the com­pa­ny is still “very new” to bio­phar­ma, hav­ing on­ly launched that branch of the busi­ness last year.

So far they count 10 dif­fer­ent drug de­vel­op­ment part­ners, in­clud­ing CROs, biotechs and Big Phar­ma com­pa­nies. That in­cludes a part­ner­ship with the well-heeled Swiss biotech ADC Ther­a­peu­tics to dis­cov­er bio­mark­ers for their lead an­ti­body-drug con­ju­gate, AD­CT-402, by track­ing free-float­ing DNA in the blood. They’ve helped de­sign 4 dif­fer­ent tri­als, Cam­b­long said.

Cam­b­long is con­fi­dent, though, that plat­forms like his will on­ly grow in im­por­tance, a trend ac­cel­er­at­ed by the pan­dem­ic. A slew of ge­nom­ic and re­al world da­ta com­pa­nies have worked since Jan­u­ary to rapid­ly an­a­lyze im­mune re­spons­es, mon­i­tor coro­n­avirus mu­ta­tions and track what drug pa­tients are re­ceiv­ing and whether those drugs are work­ing. Right now, the com­pa­ny is col­lect­ing vi­ral and pa­tient da­ta in Brazil in a bid to track what they call “Covid-19 dis­ease evo­lu­tion.”

Sophia now has 350 em­ploy­ees spread across of­fices in Switzer­land and Boston. Their goal now is to get the com­pa­ny to $100 mil­lion in an­nu­al rev­enue by 2022, with $20 mil­lion com­ing from bio­phar­ma, Cam­b­long said. In the process, he al­so plans to take the com­pa­ny to Nas­daq.

“For us, the IPO will not be a neg­a­tive event,” he said. “It is re­al­ly in­tend­ed to po­si­tion Sophia as the win­ner in that space glob­al­ly.”

So­cial im­age: Ju­r­gi Cam­b­long, Sophia Ge­net­ics via YouTube

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