Caris Life Sciences says the eye-popping $890 million growth equity round it completed this week will enable it to support the commercialization and launch of its early detection blood-based pan-cancer test. [Caris Life Sciences]

Caris Life Sciences says the eye-popping $890 million growth equity round it completed this week will enable it to support the commercialization and launch of its early detection blood-based pan-cancer test.

The financing, Caris says, will give it the capital needed for bringing to market a first-in-class liquid biopsy platform capable of detecting stage 1 and stage 2 cancer by identifying mutations in blood with high concordance to tissue testing.

The test is designed to be usable across different modalities, including therapy selection, monitoring of disease progression, detection of minimal residual disease, and screening for early stage cancer.

“This funding helps us to accelerate the advancement of our mission. We plan to use the capital to fund the commercialization of our innovative products, continue the development of bioinformatics and AI capabilities, expand our lab footprint and enhance our clinical and commercial organizations,” Caris Life Sciences President and Chief Scientific Officer David Spetzler, MS, PhD, MBA, told Clinical OMICs.

Spetzler said Caris is currently enrolling patients into validation studies to demonstrate the performance of the assay.

“The technology we created addresses a significant shortfall of current methods, specifically being able to return results for >99% of patients, instead of the 60% that existing cfDNA technologies on the market today are capable of,” Spetzler added.

Current approaches using only cfDNA fall short, Spetzler said, since about 40% of late stage cancer patients are “non-shedders” who do not have sufficient amounts of circulating tumor DNA to perform a viable test. The percentage of patients without sufficient material increases as the stage of the cancer decreases.

“The application of our unmatched assay development and AI capabilities to blood-based testing unlocks a plethora of opportunities to better serve patients and improve the healthcare system,” Spetzler said. “This funding will help to support the commercialization of this critical and innovative product portfolio.”

The liquid biopsy will also broaden Caris’ market offerings, since the majority of its business is now tied to its tissue-testing profiling offering. That offering is based on an approach the company calls Caris Molecular Intelligence, which is designed to allow oncologists to assess all 22,000 genes in both DNA and RNA, through whole exome sequencing, whole transcriptome sequencing, protein analysis, and proprietary AI models and signatures.

The combination approach, Caris asserts, is the most comprehensive and clinically relevant profiling available on the market.

“Our technology unlocks the full potential of precision medicine through a more comprehensive interrogation of cancer at the molecular level,” Spetzler added.

The financing—which values Caris at more than $7.8 billion—brings to approximately $1.3 billion the amount of external capital raised by Caris since 2018, a decade after Chairman and CEO David D. Halbert led a series of mergers and acquisitions that culminated in the founding of Caris Life Sciences, which articulates its purpose as fulfilling the promise of personalized medicine.

Caris is headquartered in Irving, TX, with offices in Phoenix, Denver, New York, and Basel, Switzerland. The company has approximately 1,300 employees.

Last year, Caris raised $310 million in growth-stage capital, consisting of of $235 million in equity financing and $75 million in debt financing from global investment firm Sixth Street— an extension of a $150 million structured debt financing that Caris raised in 2018 from the global investment firm.

Sixth Street led the latest financing round, marking its third investment in Caris over the past three years.

Funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Silver Lake, Fidelity Management & Research Co., and Coatue were “significant” participants in the round, Caris said. Joining them as investors were Columbia Threadneedle Investments, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Millennium Management, Neuberger Berman Funds, Highland Capital Management, Rock Springs Capital, OrbiMed, ClearBridge Investments, Tudor Investment Corporation, Eaton Vance Equity (Morgan Stanley), Pura Vida Investments, and First Light Asset Management.

“Caris was founded with a very simple but powerful purpose – to help save and extend the lives of as many cancer patients as possible,” Spetzler said. “With transformative technologies, we are revolutionizing precision medicine to help patients, clinicians and scientists navigate, advance and reinvent cancer care.”

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