Redwood City, Calif.-based Satoris, a biotech developing a blood test for Alzheimer’s disease, raised $5 million in a second funding round, VentureWire reports. The deal values Satoris at $13.8 million after the financings. The company had previously raised $1 million from individuals, and said it will seek another $15 million this year.
Satoris plans to use the funding to begin commercialization of its protein-based blood test for Alzheimer’s disease, which the company expects to make available in the first half of this year. It looks like Satoris initially plans to market the test as a tool for clinical research, not as a general-purpose diagnostic, as the VentureWire story says the company plans to target pharma/biotech companies and Alzheimer’s research groups.
That’s definitely a good idea. The test itself certainly has the potential to break some important ground — Alzheimer’s can’t currently be diagnosed except by neurobehavioral testing of already-sick patients or via a post-mortem autopsy, whereas the Satoris test appears to detect the disease at a much earlier stage. But its error rates remain quite high, despite what the company touts as a 90 percent accuracy rate. I explained why in this post, which unpacked the numbers and showed why even that level of accuracy would produce a tremendous amount of life-altering misinformation if used to screen the general public.
The VentureWire story doesn’t say so, but to make the test commercially available that quickly almost certainly means Satoris will offer it as a “home brew” diagnostic, which allows it to sidestep the FDA approval process. Home-brew tests are performed by companies themselves in state-regulated laboratories — doctors or hospitals send patient samples into the lab, which then sends back the results. These sorts of diagnostics are permitted under a federal law known as the Clinical Laboatory Improvement Amendments, or CLIA. Traditional diagnostics, which usually involve the marketing of test kits and associated equipment to reference laboratories, hospitals or individual physicians, require explicit FDA approval.
Satoris says the funds will allow it to devote additional resources to further development of the test, and expects its cash cushion to last “well into next year.” CEO Cris McReynolds told VentureWire that he expects to begin fundraising again at the end of the year. VentureWire didn’t name investors in the current round, but previously reported that they would include Life Science Angels and Brain Trust Accelerator Fund.