Medical Lab technician hold sample blood for testing
Credit: Douglas Sacha/Getty Images

Delfi Diagnostics, which is developing novel liquid biopsy screening tests for cancer leveraging machine learning and genome-wide fragmentation profiles of cell free DNA, announced today that it has closed a $250 million Series B financing round led by DFJ Growth. The new infusion of capital will be used to fund the continued development and commercialization of the company’s test for single cancer and multicancer detection, as well as treatment monitoring.

“With this financing, Delfi is even better positioned to make high-quality liquid biopsy applications broadly available regardless of geographic and socioeconomic constraints,” said Doug Schenkel, CFO of Delfi in a press release. “We recognize that a fundraising of this magnitude is a notable achievement and with that comes great responsibility. Our focus on the Delfi mission to save lives through early cancer detection has never been higher.”

According to the company, its unique approach to developing liquid biopsy testing uses proprietary approaches to characterizing whole-genome DNA fragmentation. Many current liquid biopsy tests look to capture cell-free DNA that has been released by cancer cells disease or to examine methylation markers in small regions of DNA to detect the presence of cancer. Delfi’s approach analyzes cell-free DNA fragments across the entire genome—an approach the company says can provide low-cost, easy-to-run lab process that can used for any cancer test developed on its platform. The company combines this testing approach with a machine learning to further enhance test results.

Delfi is currently validating its testing approach via the CASCADE-LUNG study, a prospective, multi-center trial that is enrolling up to 15,000 patients at the time of their low dose CT (LDCT) lung cancer screening to the clinical validation of Delfi’s liquid biopsy test for lung cancer detection. The trial focuses on the early diagnosis of heavy smokers who are 50 or older. U.S. Preventative Services Task Force guidelines currently recommend LDCT for this patient group, yet only 5% of eligible patients receive the screening.

“We know LDCT can save the lives of underserved and hard to reach populations who are traditionally left behind from important medical advances,” said Julie Barta, MD, the co-principal investigator of the CASCADE-LUNG study and assistant professor of Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals in a press release announcing the launch of the trial in May. “The prospect that a procedure as routine as a blood draw could be used to improve equitable screening while reducing the number of false positives, is very exciting and could contribute to reducing lung cancer mortality in this population.”

The company also announced in May a research collaboration for the study of its liquid biopsy test in lung cancer with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Biomarker Development Program.

According to Justin Kao, partner with DFJ Growht, it is these collaborations and research efforts that have attracted the latest round of investors. “Delfi has made incredible progress in a short amount of time. We believe that Delfi’s low cost approach is critical to bringing early cancer detection to millions of patients globally.

“But the most exciting thing about Delfi is its potential to create a next-generation diagnostics company that innovates on data and analytics rather than focusing on ever-more complicated wet lab techniques,” Kao added. “Delfi’s cutting-edge machine learning enables new products to be built on the same flexible assay, which has the potential to revolutionize the way we detect and manage cancer.

Also of Interest