New Jersey biotech startup Recombine has raised $US3.3 million to test future parents for hereditary diseases that could be passed on to children.
FirstMark Capital led the round of financing. Notable New York tech founders Nat Turner and Zach Weinberg also invested. So did Gerson Lehrman Group’s Alex St. Amand, Vast Ventures, And Vivek Garipalli.
For a few hundred dollars, couples can ask their doctors for a Recombine test called CarrierMap. The tests analyse blood and saliva samples, examine the DNA of both people, and let couples know what diseases their future child could be at risk for. Recombine only looks for diseases that can be prevented so couples don’t feel hopeless; it never tells people they can’t or shouldn’t have babies. Recombine scans DNA for 213 diseases such as Cystic Fibrosis; the test costs $US345.
Results are available one to two weeks after testing. Recombine has genetic counselors on staff that explain test results to the couples. Recombine co-founder Alex Bisignano tested himself and found one hereditary disease he could pass on to children some day.
23andMe, another genetic test created by a startup, was recently sent a notice by the FDA and asked to stop marketing its product to consumers. Bisignano says his company has medical certifications and approval from the New York Department of Health, so Recombine won’t run into the same issue. Recombine is also careful to only sell its product directly through doctors.
While the Carrier Map test allows Bisignano’s startup to generate revenue, it also allows Recombine to collect valuable data that could eventually help solve more complex genetic problems.
“Recombine has ambitious plans to fully leverage Big Data technology to help decode the myriad aspects of our genome that are still not well understood,” FirstMark investor Matt Turck says. “They have already obtained Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval for their first large-scale study, and the company is currently assembling a crack team of data scientists in New York City.”
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