Article

Genome diagnostic company Congenica raises £2.2m

By Anna Masefield - 16 April 2015

Cambridge-based Congenica, a spinout from The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, has raised a further £2.2m with the completion of a series A round of financing by Amadeus Capital Partners’ early stage funds and the company’s initial investor Cambridge Innovation Capital.

Congenica was launched in 2014 by six world leading geneticists and bio-informaticians. It has developed a proprietary platform to screen whole genome sequence data to identify novel genetic mutations and to highlight those associated with inherited or acquired genetic disorders. 

Collectively, rare genetic disease affects some 6% of people, three quarters of whom are children.  The UK alone has 3.5 million people affected – the EU 30 million.  80% of rare diseases are thought to have a genetic basis, but a small fraction are diagnosed molecularly, a process that would provide much faster and more accurate diagnoses and prognoses.

Congenica’s core technology SapientiaTM has already proved capable of accurately diagnosing children with previously undiagnosed problems.  This information will improve disease diagnosis and, especially in the case of children with rare genetic disorders, to determine the best therapies and support for the patient and their family.

In addition, the technology also allows the efficient analysis of complex genomic data to facilitate drug discovery.  The extreme phenotypes associated with rare genetic diseases provide useful insights into the origins of more widespread diseases such as diabetes.

This funding will be used to further develop Congenica’s technology to become the gold standard clinical genomic analytics platform, capable of processing big data sets of human DNA sequence to generate a definitive molecular diagnosis.  This will improve interpretation of genetic disease for treatment and assist in new drug discovery. 

In March 2015, it was announced that Congenica had been awarded £2m by Genomics England in its SBRI Phase Two assessment of Enabling Technologies for Genomics Sequence Data Analysis and Interpretation. This award followed confirmation that Congenica had been selected by Genomics England as one of the winners in the genome annotation competition.

Congenica CEO, Dr Tom Weaver, whose career includes helping to build a number of start-ups including Hexagen and Geneservice, says: “Amadeus Capital Partners has a strong reputation for identifying disruptive technologies and the investment is an excellent endorsement of the potential of our Sapientia technology.  Coupled with the continued support of Cambridge Innovation Capital, we have an excellent investor base and have now achieved £5m in funding and grants and which will help us take the technology into the clinic and accelerate our growth.”

Amadeus Partner, Hermann Hauser who joins Congenica’s Board of Directors, says: “We are convinced that accurate gene sequencing and related diagnoses are the way forward for a number of inherited debilitating conditions and that this will build a better world for all our children.  With Solexa (now acquired by Illumina), Cambridge put itself firmly on the map for these technologies and we have every confidence that Congenica will become a similarly important company.” 

Peter Keen, CEO of Cambridge Innovation Capital and Board member of Congenica adds: “This increased investment will expedite Congenica’s aim of taking the ground-breaking research work of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute to the clinic for the wider benefit of patients”.

Advisers on the transaction were Taylor Wessing and Taylor Vinters. 

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