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25 January, 2021 - 10:43 By Tony Quested

Sano Genetics accelerates Long COVID research after raising $3.2m

Sano Genetics in Cambridge has raised $3.2 million in seed funding to accelerate research into Long COVID.

The round was led by Episode1 Ventures, alongside Seedcamp, Cambridge Enterprise, January Ventures, and several UK, Europe and US-based angel investors.

Having raised £500K in a 2018 pre-seed round, the startup’s digital platform and at-home genetic testing capabilities are already empowering greater participation in crucial research into multiple sclerosis, ankylosing spondylitis, NAFLD, and ulcerative colitis, with a research programme for Parkinson's disease on the agenda for later in 2021.

This latest funding round – coupled with a grant from Innovate UK – will cover the cost of free at-home DNA testing kits for 3,000 people affected by Long COVID and the continued development of Sano Genetics’ ‘private-by-design’ technology platform, which gives users full control and transparency around how and where their personal data is used by researchers.

The company was co-founded in 2017 by Charlotte Guzzo, Patrick Short and William Jones who met at Cambridge University while studying genomics as postgrads. They observed, first hand, the high failure rate of clinical trials and the poor experience for those taking part.

Chief operating officer Charlotte Guzzo, explains: “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.

“The scientific community has long relied on time-starved doctors signposting patients to clinical trials which just isn’t an effective way to get decent levels of participation. The pandemic has added further challenges, as many patients with rare and chronic diseases are unable to safely leave home.

“As such, the failure rate of clinical trials is shockingly high which has an enormous impact on patients with unmet medical needs, and financially hurts the companies investing in research. A technology-first, direct-to-patient approach has been long overdue.

“This tranche of funding will help us further develop the end-to-end experience for the many people keen to contribute to personalised medical research, including clinical trials of potentially life-changing medicines and, in doing so, improve the outlook for people living with chronic and often debilitating conditions.”

Sano Genetics has also partnered with Genomics England to develop software to be used by national-scale precision medicine initiatives and improve the participant experience in research.

It will add an important layer of information reported directly by participants, such as daily symptom tracking, or via wearable devices that monitor activity or sleep. 

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