The growing liquid biopsy field sees a unicorn entrant as Caris pulls in $830M megaround
Caris Life Sciences has pulled in another massive raise, and this time they’re reportedly one step closer to launching their IPO.
The AI-focused Caris pulled in an $830 million growth equity round, the company announced Tuesday afternoon, earning a valuation of about $7.83 billion. Tuesday’s raise also brings their total financing amount to $1.3 billion since 2018 and $1.14 billion since last October. According to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the raise, Caris expects to complete their IPO sometime within the next 12 months.
Caris’ strategy utilizes artificial intelligence to map a cancer patient’s genetic makeup and determine which kinds of treatments would be best suited for an optimal outcome. The company says their platform allows doctors to assess all 22,000 genes in both DNA and RNA to do so, utilizing whole exome sequencing, whole transcriptome sequencing and protein analysis in addition to its AI models.
Funds from Tuesday’s raise will allow Caris to push their efforts into liquid biopsies, in addition to the solid tumor biopsy services they currently provide. One of these new programs comes in the form of a blood-based pan-cancer test, which Caris hopes can be used to detect cancers in their earlier stages.
“This recent raise will help us bring our market-leading science and technologies to as many patients as possible, ultimately reinventing cancer care,” CEO David Halbert said in a statement. “We plan to unlock the full potential of precision medicine through comprehensive interrogation of cancer at the molecular level.”
Precision medicine — and all the tools that make it possible — is a high-flying area of the biopharma industry, evidenced by Caris’ own financing and unicorn valuation. One of its main competitors in genomic profiling is Foundation Medicine, which was acquired by Roche for $2.4 billion back in 2018. The buyout had followed a similar $1.9 billion deal where Roche purchased Flatiron Health and their health records system.
Meanwhile, Caris’ move into the liquid biopsy arena will see it join a relatively new but crowded field, pitting it against well-known players like Guardant Health and Third Rock-backed Thrive Earlier Detection. There’s also the Illumina spin-out Grail, which notched its own hefty raise in May 2020 with $390 million in new financing and subsequently planned an IPO.
Before it could go public, however, Illumina announced it would be re-acquiring Grail last September for $8 billion. That merger was put on hold earlier this year after the FTC moved to block the deal from going through.