SEngine Precision Medicine, a startup working to personalize cancer treatment, has raised $3 million in new funding and added former Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center President Dr. Lee Hartwell to its board of directors.
The new funding, which brings the company’s ongoing funding round to $8.2 million, was led by the Bangarang Group. Elliott Burkland, the group’s founder and representative, will also join SEngine’s board of directors. The rest of the funds came from unidentified angel investors and will help the company scale its technology and grow its team of 10.
“The addition of such an esteemed scientist pioneer to our board is a turning point for SEngine. Coupled with the new investment, these milestones validate the SEngine approach of harnessing synthetic lethality and organoids to move cancer-fighting drugs to market faster and to the right patients,” SEngine CEO Carla Grandori said in a press release. Grandori is also a former Fred Hutch researcher.
Hartwell is best known as the former president of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, a cancer research institute that gave birth to SEnginge and a number of other biotechnology companies in the Seattle region.
He is also a co-recipient for the 2001 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his discovery of proteins that control how cells duplicate, an important process in understanding cancer.
Every patient’s cancer is unique, and every patient will respond differently to the hundreds of drug combinations they could take to treat the disease. SEngine’s PARIS test actually grows a patient’s tumor cells in a lab, then analyzes them to determine the most effective combination of drugs.
“If I had cancer, SEngine is the approach I would want to take,” Hartwell said in a press release. “We know the majority of SEngine tests show tumors respond to a drug that would likely not be predicted. SEngine’s proprietary method screens for cancer sensitivity to hundreds of drugs and drug combinations — without exposing patients to toxic and potentially ineffective treatments.”
SEngine is also hoping the PARIS platform can help drug makers target their candidates to the patients that will benefit most, lowering the amount of time and money needed to bring a new cancer drug to the market. The National Institutes of Health awarded the company a $3.1 million grant in May.