Progenity recently closed a $125 million financing round to accelerate development of its gastrointestinal (GI) platform for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including precision molecular diagnostic tools, precision therapeutics, microbiome analytics and consumer health nutrition.
The financing was led by a fund managed by a long-time investor, Athyrium Capital Management.
“Proceeds will be used to enhance our menu and service offerings to our physician clients in the prenatal and broader women’s health market on a national scale,” Harry Stylli, executive chairman and founder of San Diego-based Progenity, said in a press release. “We shall continue to invest in new assets to strengthen our internal innovation and commercial efforts.”
Progenity’s platform might be used to orally deliver new therapeutic agents and proteins to the GI tract. As part of its precision medicine portfolio, the company is developing molecular diagnostics for small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), microbiome analytics for both the upper and lower GI tract and consumer health nutrition applications. These could be used to treat IBDs, irritable bowel syndrome, fatty liver disease and gastrointestinal cancers.
Progenity, known for women’s health molecular testing, has a pipeline of proprietary tests and therapeutics currently under development for pre-eclampsia, genetic carrier testing, inheritable cancer genetics, liquid biopsy and non-invasive prenatal testing.
“We are excited to continue to support Progenity’s growth in patient-focused diagnostics and therapeutics,” said Jeffrey A. Ferrell, managing partner of Athyrium. “The platform the team has built is a testament to the company’s vision in women’s health and the promise of their growing oncology and gastroenterology franchises. With this financing, we believe that the company will be well capitalized to execute on its internal pipeline and business development opportunities.”
At least one million Americans have IBD, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), though some ethnic groups are affected more than others. Ulcerative colitis (UC), for instance, is slightly more common in males, while Crohn’s disease occurs more in females. Caucasians and Ashkenazi Jews are more prone to IBD, though these ethnic and racial differences seem to be disappearing.