Cambridge’s Sano Genetics has raised £2.5 million in seed funding led by Episode 1 Ventures, alongside Seedcamp, Cambridge Enterprise, January Ventures and some angel investors from Europe and the US. With this latest investment and a grant from Innovate UK, Sano Genetics will cover the cost of free at-home DNA testing kits for 3,000 people affected by Long Covid, also known as chronic COVID syndrome (CCS), where symptoms last long after the typical recovery period.
The startup has created at-home genetic testing, along with a digital platform, to enable more participation in clinical trials. So far the combination has fueled crucial research into multiple sclerosis, ankylosing spondylitis, NAFLD, and ulcerative colitis, with a research programme for Parkinson's disease on the agenda for later this year. Many trials rely on doctors to refer viable patients, “which just isn’t an effective way to get decent levels of participation,” says COO Charlotte Guzzo. “We urgently need more people contributing to medical science, but the gap between those wanting to take part and actually knowing how to is huge,” she added, noting that the pandemic has been especially difficult since the most at-risk patients can’t leave home. “A technology-first, direct-to-patient approach has been long overdue,” she concludes.
Sano Genetics got started in 2017 and raised a £500,000 pre-seed round in 2018. With the fresh funding, the company will also continue developing its ‘private-by-design’ tech platform, which gives users full control and transparency around how and where their personal data is used by researchers.