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Illumina acquires GRAIL | West Fountain Portfolio Company GRAIL Acquired for over USD 8B (Cash & Stock) via M&A


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In August 2021, GRAIL, Inc. ("GRAIL"), a top early-stage cancer detection company, announced a mergers and acquisition (M&A) agreement with Illumina Inc. ("ILMN"), the world's largest supplier of genetic sequencing equipment. ILMN enabled GRAIL to liquidate its shareholder through the M&A event with over USD 8 billion cash and ILMN stock. GRAIL shareholders have approved and completed the merger and settlement.

In November 2017, West Fountain Parallel Fund and Shenzhen Capital Group jointly invested in the Series B+ financing of GRAIL. In April 2020, West Fountain Parallel Fund again participated in GRAIL's Series D. Other GRAIL investors include Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, ARCH Venture Partners, Google Venture, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Merck & Co. and other world-class investors and well-known pharmaceutical companies.

In recent years, most of the companies that intend to enter the early cancer detection industry are companies engaged in companion diagnosis, liquid biopsy, as well as a small number of traditional molecular diagnostic companies. However, at this stage, the entire industry is facing the problem of low detection accuracy (low sensitivity, low specificity) and is at an early stage of R&D. Some companies that have announced that they will develop early stage cancer detection methods have not yet conducted related investment, R&D, or large-scale clinical trials. As the world’s first multi-tumor early detection product, “Galleri”, launched by GRAIL can detect more than 50 types of early stage cancer tumors with just one tube of blood. It has a sensitivity of 44%, a specificity of more than 99%, and a positive predictive value of 43% - very competitive in the industry. It has been approved by the US FDA as a breakthrough medical device, and has entered the market in the form of LTD this year.

This acquisition is of great significance to ILMN and for GRAIL, as well as to the majority of cancer patients. It will accelerate the adoption of NGS-based early multi-cancer detection technology worldwide and benefit more patients. "The merger with Illumina will get the Galleri test to people far faster," said Hans Bishop, CEO of GRAIL. "We aim to accelerate this process so the test will be available in doctors' offices everywhere, fully reimbursed. A one-year acceleration of access to the Galleri test for the U.S. population has the potential to save 10,000 lives over a 9-year period," Bishop continued.

West Fountain is confident about the huge market in the field of early cancer detection and GRAIL's leading position in the industry, and continues to support the development of GRAIL. We believe that GRAIL will maintain the technological advantages after the acquisition, and jointly accelerate the commercialization of products with ILMN and will grow into a unicorn in the field of global cancer early detection.