ReadCoor spins from Harvard after pulling in $23 million in first round of funding

Startup has developed imaging platform for gaining insight into cancer, infectious diseases, cognitive disorders and more.
By Bernie Monegain
10:50 AM
ReadCoor, spins from Harvard after pulling in $23M in first round of funding

After completing its first and over-subscribed round of funding to the tune of $23 million, ReadCoor founders announced they would spin out from Harvard University’s Wyss Institute.

ReadCoor will commercialize the Wyss Institute’s FISSEQ – fluorescent in situ sequencing – technology.

The founders describe the technology as a novel imaging platform of gene locations – a high throughput spatial gene sequencing technology that simultaneously reads the sequences of thousands of RNAs – the working copies of genes – and visualizes their three-dimensional coordinates within whole cells and tissues.

As they see it, the technology stands to revolutionize clinical diagnostics and drug discovery.

ReadCoor has entered into a worldwide licensing agreement with Harvard's Office of Technology Development, securing exclusive rights to FISSEQ technology.

[Also: Big data, genomics, genetic engineering can combat rising healthcare costs, Ernst and Young says]

"The FISSEQ platform has been incubating at Wyss Institute for several years under the direction of scientists and engineers with expertise in next-gen sequencing," ReadCoor’s CEO Shawn Marcell said in a statement. Marcell’s focus has been on translating FISSEQ as an Entrepreneur-In-Residence at the Wyss Institute.

"This has positioned us to begin providing sequencing services to academia and industry almost immediately, and shipping early commercial systems in the near future," Marcell added.

[See also: Healthcare IT startups to watch in 2016: Running list of big news.]

A team headed by Wyss core faculty member and ReadCoor co-founder George Church, invented and developed FISSEQ. The platform is in use by a Wyss-led consortium at work mapping neuronal connectomics to discover the brain’s learning patterns and synaptic design. The goal is to improve neural-derived machine learning algorithms.

Church, chairman of the ReadCoor Scientific Advisory Board, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, professor of health sciences and technology at MIT and senior associate faculty member at the Broad Institute, sees FISSEQ as the next step in the evolution of sequencing technology.

"We are opening the door to a truly 'pan-omic' view of all biological molecules and interactions within cells and tissues, powering numerous research discoveries and clinical applications," he said in a statement.

FISSEQ’s comprehensive view of gene expression within cells and tissues provides insights into biological complexity that, until now, have not been possible. Currently available sequencing technologies can only provide sequencing information, not spatial information. FISSEQ provides both – what the team at Harvard say is the first true merging of imaging and sequencing.

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