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21 August, 2023 - 22:58 By News Desk

M Ventures leads Lightcast Discovery’s $49m Series B raise

Life science tools business Lightcast Discovery – with bases in Cambridge UK and Boston US – has raised a $49 million Series B round. It is a stunning return in a tough macro climate for fundraising.

The round was led by M Ventures, the venture capital arm of global big-hitter Merck and drew participation from existing investors ARCH Venture Partners, Illumina Ventures, OMX Ventures, +ND Capital, and Longwall Ventures.

Lightcast’s novel single-cell platform allows users to control and profile massively parallel and sequential droplet-based assays, with end-to-end tracking and live cell recovery for downstream applications.

The funding will accelerate company growth leading up to full commercial launch enhanced by the appointment of Paul Steinberg – 20 years an industry star – as Chief Commercial Officer.

Based at the Broers Building in  Cambridge, Lightcast is advancing single-cell functional analysis with a flexible droplet-based platform that can load, select, process, analyse and recover tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of individual cells at the same time.

This enables the manipulation of addressable picolitre droplets with light in a massively parallel manner, enabling sequential assays beyond transcriptome-only readouts.

Unlike standard microfluidic methods, Lightcast’s platform offers greater flexibility to analyse a broad range of cell types and assays, as well as the precision to meticulously control and monitor the number, occupancy, location and movement of each droplet.

Lightcast says the unprecedented flexibility, scalability, and control of this approach will streamline workflows for drug discovery and development, and promote translational and basic research advancements.

Paul Loeffen, CEO of Lightcast, said: “The power of single-cell analysis to uncover the complexities of biology has become increasingly evident, but much of the work still focuses on the transcriptome as the primary readout. 

“The next stage is to enable functional single-cell analysis at a comparable scale and with increased precision and control. With this funding, we will drive commercialisation of our platform to meet the critical need of unifying diverse functional assays into a streamlined workflow to accelerate drug development.”

The appointment of Paul Steinberg significantly strengthens the executive team. With a track record of over 20 years in leading commercial teams, corporate growth strategies, business development efforts and global accounts in life science tools, Steinberg will play a crucial role in the company's commercial launch and spearheading global sales and marketing endeavours.

He brings extensive experience in the life sciences tools industry, particularly in bringing ground-breaking single-cell genomic and proteomic technologies to market and achieving key launch milestones.

Prior to joining Lightcast, Steinberg held key leadership positions at renowned companies including Resolve Biosciences, Levitas Bio, NanoString Technologies, Fluidigm, and Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Founded in 2019, Lightcast has invented a technology that uses light to control picolitre-scale droplets for functional analysis of individual cells, which can then be moved to other platforms for further interrogation.
It raised £1.3m seed funding from private investors in September of that year to commercialise the work conducted by the founders at Base4.

The company aims to unleash new capabilities within the single-cell analysis field by developing a more accessible, scalable and flexible platform for scientists in basic, translational, and applied research. 

These capabilities will empower new biological discoveries and accelerate the development of novel drugs, therapies, and biologics, Lightcast says.
• M Ventures is the strategic, corporate venture capital arm of Merck and has its headquarters in the Netherlands and offices in Germany, USA and Israel.

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