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US-based Karius targets wider adoption of AI-powered diagnostics with $100M funding

US-based Karius targets wider adoption of AI-powered diagnostics with $100M funding (1)

Karius, a company pioneering genomic diagnostics for infectious diseases, has secured $100 million in Series C funding. This round of funding was co-led by Khosla Ventures and new investors 5AM Ventures and Gilde Healthcare. Existing investors including Softbank Vision Fund 2 and General Catalyst also participated in the round.

Earlier this year, we also reported about Dutch medtech Amazec Photonics which secured €1.5M for next-gen minimally invasive diagnosis devices.

What will the funding be used for

This new investment will allow Karius to expand its reach beyond the current 400 U.S. hospitals utilising the Karius Test. The Karius Test is a diagnostic tool that leverages genomic analysis and artificial intelligence to detect over 1,000 pathogens from a single blood sample. 

The funding will enable Karius to address the growing demand from healthcare providers to make the Karius Test available beyond the hospital setting. Additionally, the funds will support research into the broader applications of Karius’ microbial cell-free DNA technology beyond infectious diseases.

Is there a need for faster diagnostics in critical care

“Every minute in the U.S., five cancer patients are admitted to the hospital due to infections,” said Alec Ford, CEO of Karius. “These infections can be overshadowed by the primary diagnosis but are equally lethal, leading to nearly 1,000 deaths daily.”

Ford emphasises the critical need for faster diagnostic solutions, particularly for immunocompromised patients like those undergoing cancer treatment. The Karius Test can significantly reduce the time required to identify the cause of infection, potentially saving lives and healthcare resources.

New board members join Karius

Karius also announced the appointment of three new board members alongside recent additions Dr. Norman Sharpless, former National Cancer Institute Head, and Elizabeth O’Farrell, former Eli Lilly executive. The new board members include:

  • Alex Morgan, M.D., Ph.D., Partner at Khosla Ventures
  • Joep Muijrers, Ph.D., General Partner at Gilde Healthcare
  • Andrew Booth, Venture Advisor to 5AM Ventures and CFO of AbCellera Biologics

It’s a fight against antimicrobial resistance

Alex Morgan of Khosla Ventures highlights how Karius addresses crucial gaps in healthcare diagnostics. Traditional methods can be slow and lead to the overuse of antibiotics, particularly risky for immunocompromised patients. 

This overuse contributes to the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Precise identification of pathogens allows for targeted treatment, minimising reliance on broad-spectrum antibiotics and reducing the risk of AMR proliferation.

What does clinical trial results suggest

The Series C funding coincides with positive results from the PICKUP1 trial. This multi-center study enrolled over 250 hospitalised adults with pneumonia and active blood cancers at leading medical centres across the U.S. 

The Karius Test, when used alongside standard diagnostic procedures, detected 40% more infections with the potential to change medical management in over 80% of these cases. This study highlights the Karius Test’s potential to significantly improve patient care, particularly for vulnerable populations.

What we think about the startup

Karius’ $100 million Series C funding and positive clinical trial results suggest strong momentum for the company’s rapid and precise infectious disease diagnostics. The additional resources will enable Karius to expand access to the Karius Test and explore new applications for its technology. This could lead to improved patient outcomes and contribute to the fight against antimicrobial resistance in the healthcare system.

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