SAN DIEGO -- (BUSINESS WIRE) -- DermTech, a privately held biotechnology company developing and commercializing qPCR (quantitative polymerase chain reaction) assays for skin samples collected non-invasively using adhesive tape biopsy methods, announced today that it has raised $5.6 million in the first close of a Series B financing.
Jacobs Investment Company, LLC led the Series B financing with participation from other existing investors and new investors as well. Proceeds from the financing will be used to fund further development, complete commercial validation of assays, and achieve the necessary laboratory accreditation. As part of the commercialization strategy, the Company plans to establish its own lab facility that will be certified pursuant to applicable Federal Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) regulations to process molecular tests and provide patient results.
The Company’s proprietary assay can analyze multiple gene targets to assess their level of gene expression. The Company will initially offer a novel assay that identifies expression consistent with melanoma. DermTech’s qPCR assay is compatible with the use of a tape strip to harvest cells from pigmented lesions, allowing for a non-invasive biopsy. Melanoma is responsible for the majority of skin cancer fatalities and is the deadliest of all skin cancers. It is estimated that more than 135,000 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2013, with more than 61,300 being non-invasive (in situ) and more than 76,690 being invasive. The American Cancer Society projects that 9,480 of the more than 12,000 skin cancer deaths in 2013 will be from melanoma. Because approximately 62% of melanomas and 45% of melanoma deaths occur prior to age 65, melanoma places significant burdens on the healthcare system well beyond Medicare.
Detection of early melanoma can lead to high cure rates, almost always treated by simple surgical resection. A significant unmet need exists for an objective, non-invasive test that can aid a clinician’s decision to perform a surgical biopsy. The Company has conducted several clinical studies, including one published in the British Journal of Dermatology, that have demonstrated the assay’s ability to distinguish melanoma from non-melanoma with a sensitivity of >95% and a specificity of >70%. This compares more favorably to existing clinical aid methods that have sensitivities of 80-90% and specificities of 10-30%.
“The acquisition of the Series B Financing will help the Company tremendously as we continue to validate our assay and drive toward commercialization on this important tool for clinicians,” said John Dobak, M.D., Chief Executive Officer and President. “We appreciate that our key investors support our vision and have funded this Series B financing.”
Dr. Dobak has served as Founder and CEO of several venture-backed life science companies in San Diego. He is the President of the JAKK Group, a life sciences technology accelerator, which has created several companies, including Lithera, INNERCOOL Therapies, and CryoGen/CryoCor.
Headquartered in La Jolla, California, DermTech is focused on the development of the company’s patented qPCR assay technology and offers an RNA expression analysis of skin samples collected non-invasively using a tape collection kit. The RNA from these cells is then isolated, amplified and analyzed using molecular biology tools to facilitate the assessment of cutaneous conditions. DermTech is actively pursuing development of an assay that can determine RNA expression consistent with melanoma. For additional information visit: www.dermtech.com.