Mercy BioAnalytics Inc., a pioneer in extracellular vesicle-based liquid biopsies for cancer detection, announced today the completion of a $41 million Series A funding round. Novalis LifeSciences led the oversubscribed financing, which included Sozo Ventures, Hatteras Venture Partners, iSelect Fund, American Cancer Society BrightEdge, and Broadway Angels, an all-women venture capital group. In addition to strong participation from existing investors, the round included strategic investments from Labcorp and Bruker.
Through the simultaneous detection of multiple cancer-related biomarkers co-localized on the surface of individual tumor-derived extracellular vesicles, the company’s novel Mercy HaloTM platform enables high clinical sensitivity and specificity. The Mercy Halo test can be performed on a very small volume of serum or plasma using a simple PCR-based read-out due to the abundance of extracellular vesicles in circulation.
The funding will be used to advance the development and commercialization of the Mercy Halo test for high-risk lung cancer screening, which is the company’s lead clinical indication. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide, with over 350 Americans dying from it every day.
There are currently over 14 million Americans who are recommended for annual lung cancer screening, but only about 6% of those eligible participate in imaging-based screening programs. A simple blood test, such as Mercy Halo, could help to address this issue.
The funds will also be used to advance clinical programs in other indications, such as ovarian cancer, which is diagnosed at Stage III or Stage IV and has a poor long-term survival rate of 80%. Mercy plans to use its Mercy Halo liquid biopsy platform technology to create a diverse portfolio of cancer detection tests.
Data presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology and American Association for Cancer Research annual meetings, as well as the Early Detection of Cancer Conference, last year demonstrated promising preliminary performance for Mercy Halo assays in detecting Stage I and II lung cancer and ovarian cancer. In these and other indications, the company is currently planning and executing studies to validate assay performance in larger independent patient cohorts.