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Investment Update : West Fountain Parallel Fund invested in Series D of ealry cancer detection company GRAIL,Inc

2020.05.06

Image from Grail

In May 2020, West Fountain Global Fund LP ("West Fountain"), an offshore parallel fund of West Fountain Parallel Fund, completed a Series D investment in GRAIL, Inc. ("Grail"), a leading early cancer screening company in the United States. ("Grail"). New investors in this round included the Public Sector Pension Investment Board of Canada (PSP Investments) and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments), as well as existing investors such as Illumina. Since the beginning of 2016, GRAIL has completed four rounds of equity funding, raising more than $1.9 billion in funding. Prior to this, West Fountain and SCGC also participated in Grail's Series B+ funding round.


GRAIL is the world's top cancer early screening company, located in Silicon Valley, USA. GRAIL was officially separated from genetic sequencing giant Illumina in 2015. CEO Hans Bishop says that nearly 80% of deaths from cancer are caused by cancers for which there is currently no screening test.
GRAIL uses high-throughput sequencing, large-scale clinical studies and the latest power of computer science and data science to overcome one of the biggest challenges in the history of medicine, early cancer detection. GRAIL detects early cancer pitfalls through "liquid biopsies", which is what we call testing the blood. When the body harbors cancer cells, some cancer genes will be reflected in the blood. With its core technology of big data, artificial intelligence, gene sequencing and analysis, GRAIL's mission is to save lives through early cancer detection, thereby changing the trajectory of cancer mortality, change control and cancer treatment. In order to develop safe and effective products for early cancer detection, GRAIL has acquired a large amount of tumour genomic data through high-throughput sequencing by using the Illumina HiSeq X Ten sequencer, which sequences approximately 18,000 genomes per year, and has built the largest linked dataset of genomic and clinical data in the cancer field. GRAIL's long-term goal is to create a platform that connects data and life sciences to bring new treatment options for cancer and other diseases that cannot be cured by existing technologies. Through the flexible use of artificial intelligence and self-developed intelligent models, GRAIL identifies valuable clinical information from tumour genomic data for research and development.

GRAIL expects to launch its liquid biopsy product Galleri as a laboratory developed test (LDT) next year. Based on targeted DNA methylation sequencing, Galleri is able to identify more than 50 types of cancers across different stages with a false positive rate of less than 1%. In addition, this blood-based liquid biopsy method can help clinicians identify the tissue from which cancer originates. Although LDTs are technically medical devices, LDTs have historically enjoyed a less stringent regulatory policy, providing a faster route to market for GRAIL, which plans to ramp up the production of Galleri in 2021 and submit a premarket approval application (PMA) for Galleri in 2023. In parallel, GRAIL also plans to sell a separate diagnostic aid product to patients who already have developed symptoms of unknown tumours, designed to help oncologists with traditional cancer testing, which will debut after Galleri in the second half of next year.

West Fountain Parallel Fund believes that when artificial intelligence meets biotechnology and the healthcare industry, the entire landscape of healthcare is undergoing a major transformation. With the development of artificial intelligence and huge waves of information brought about by genomics, the next generation of healthcare companies such as GRAIL are creating tremendous values for patients, families and the healthcare sector through groundbreaking technologies.