54gene, the African genomics research, services, and development company has raised $15M to bolster operations in genetics, bioinformatics, preclinical, clinical and commercial programs, ten months after raising $4.5M to build an African DNA biobank.
54gene’s Series A round was led by Adjuvant Capital, a life sciences fund backed by the IFC, Novartis, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 54gene will also expand its collaborations, set up a state-of-the-art research lab, and BSL 3 capabilities in Nigeria and expand its African Biobank, a state-of-the-art biorepository for researchers.
“This new partnership marks a significant evolution in the growth of our company. In the coming months we will be focusing on building a genomic resource that we hope will add significantly to global health, while also translating to the health benefits of patients in Africa,” said 54gene Founder and CEO Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong.
Launched in 2019, 54gene is addressing the significant gap the genomics market currently poses for Africa, and build and use African genetic data sets to make landmark discoveries to support therapeutic development. As of 2018, less than 3% of the data used in Genome-wide Association Studies [GWAS] were of African ancestry and currently, less than 1% of global drug discovery occurs on the African continent.
The latest round brings 54gene’s total VC investment to $19.5M. As part of its next stage of growth, the company will further explore partnerships and opportunities for co-development of drug targets and therapeutics, and expects to partner with pharmaceutical, medical device, and diagnostic companies for clinical programs in Africa.
Apart from the raise, 54gene has also formed a Scientific Advisory Board [SAB] composed of global leaders in clinical genetics, bioinformatics and data science.
“There is enormous potential in expanding the reach of global drug and vaccine discovery by including more diverse populations in research efforts,” said Jenny Yip, Managing Partner of Adjuvant Capital. ” We were impressed by 54gene’s commitment to building a world-class network of African clinicians and geneticists and are excited to work with them as they scale and seek to drive meaningful improvements in global public health.”