Is it possible to detect the development of any form of cancer in its early stage? Freenome, a medtech startup company definitely promises that it can. With a technology that combines machine learning and biology, the new medical company shows potential for early detection of cancer as big and prestigious names in the industry pledge $65 million to aid in its promising endeavor.
Led by Andreessen Horowitz, a private American venture capital firm founded in 2009 which have also led the startup's $5.5 million seed round less than a year ago, Freenome landed the significant financial support for the hastening of its cancer research. Other financial backers include Google Ventures, Peter Thiel's Founders Fund, Data Collective, Polaris Partners, Eric Schmidt's Innovation Endeavors, Spectrum 28, and Charles River Ventures. The latest round of pledges brings the total amount raised by the South San Francisco-based startup to $71.2 million.
So how exactly does Freenome plan to detect cancer early? Freenome is advertised as a liquid biopsy diagnosis platform which uses a combination of biology and machine learning to detect cancer before it becomes deadly. It analyzes the cell-free DNA sequencing of a person to predict its chances of turning into a tumor, the ZD Net reports.
Traditionally, cancer DNA is found in a tissue sample from an actual tumor. However, tissue biopsies require surgery depending on whether the tumor is located. Additionally, the procedure can be invasive, and also expensive.
According to the BuzzFeed News, through machine learning, Freenome can detect early cancer by discovering signatures of mutation such as immunological and metabolic changes in cell-free DNA. These technological processes are more robust and cost-effective for early cancer detection. Freenome co-founder Gabe Otte says that their goal is to bringing accurate and non-invasive disease screenings to hospitals to proactively treat cancer and other diseases at their most manageable stages.