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.
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