Greater availability of African genomic data could lead to medical breakthroughs for the continent’s 1.2 billion people.
That’s the driving proposition of 54gene — a U.S. and Nigeria-based startup — that collects African genetic code for use in health research and drug development.
The company has closed a $15 million Series A round, in part, to address a deficiency in these processes.
“As of the time we launched, less then 3% of all genome wide association studies globally had been conducted in Africa. There was a lack of data coming from Africans… and the diaspora,” 54gene founder and CEO Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong said.
“We are trying to address the gap that currently exists in precision medicine for people of the African continent,” he told TechCrunch on a call from Lagos.
New York-based Adjuvant Capital led the round 54gene will now deploy toward that goal. Founded in 2019 by Ene-Obong, the company is headquartered in Washington, DC with a biobank facility in Lagos that holds capacity for 60,000 samples. The startup has an engineering team and a proprietary platform to catalog and analyze the genetic data.
54gene also has over 300 researchers, clinicians and geneticists across the continent and a research lab in Nigeria.
With the $15 million — which brings total VC to $19.5 million — the startup will expand its biobank capabilities to 200,000 samples, with a longer term goal to manage up to 500,000. 54gene is also boosting its lab capabilities. “With this funding we are about to expand that lab so we can process actual genetic data for tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people,” said Ene-Obong.
54gene plans to hire across the organization, from seeking a new VP of finance to adding additional scientists.
Read more from source article: https://news.yahoo.com/african-genomics-startup-54gene-raises-074554445.html
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