54Gene, African biotech startup has closed $15m Series A funding round amid this COVID-19 outbreak. Adjuvant Capital led the round to expand its biobank capabilities to 200,000 samples of genetic data. The fund will also boost its biobank facility in Lagos, Nigeria.
Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong founded 54fene in 2019 to develop drugs for African descents using their genetic data. It has over 300 clinicians, geneticists, researchers, and is in partnership with several hospitals across the continent. 54genes take genetic samples from willing donors in Africa and analyzes the data in its lab. It plans to process 500,000 samples of genetic data in the nearest future. There are also recruitment slots for a new VP of Finance and additional scientists in the company.
In an interview with Tech Crunch, Dr. Ene-Obong said that they intend to expand the lab to process actual genetic data for thousands. “We are trying to address the gap that currently exists in precision medicine for people of the African continent. With this funding we are about to expand that lab so we can process actual genetic data for tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people,” he said.
54gene has also been proactive in the fight against COVID-19 in Africa. It helps test for the disease in Nigeria’s public health facilities and also plans to begin coronavirus screening in its Lagos facility.
The lead investor, Adjuvant Capital, is backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Novartis. Other investors include Fifty Years, KdT Ventures, Better Ventures, Aera VC and Pioneer Fund. The Series A funding round totals the company’s VC investment to $19.5 million.
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