Africa could be on the brink of great medical breakthroughs as US and Nigerian startup 54gene raises $15 million in Series A funding.
Great news for the Africa health sector as Nigerian genomics startup 54gene announced it has raised $15 million in a Series A funding round.
The funding round led by New York-based VC firm Adjuvant Capital will facilitate the main goal of the genomics startup. The fund will be directed towards gathering African genetic codes for use in drug development and medical research. As more data is available on African genomes, the greater the medical progress in the continent.
According to the founder of 54genes, Dr. Abasi Ene-Bong, the company is looking to bridge the gap in precision medicine for not only Nigeria but the entire African continent. Adding that although 54gene is profit-oriented, the company’s goal is to improve the entire African sector. Data collected will be compiled and analyzed by 54gene’s over 300 Engineering and Proprietary staff at their research lab in Lagos.
Founded in 2019, 54gene has its headquarters in San Francisco with a 60,000 samples capacity biobank in Lagos. Expansion is to take place in this biobank facility, with the newly pumped fund. As of now, its capacity is to be increased from 60,000 to 200,000 samples with a plan to attain 500,000 samples capacity in the near future. The work does not end here, as the company is also in the process of expanding the lab capabilities in order to make it possible to process genetic data of people in their tens of thousands, even better, hundreds of thousands.
The genomics firm along with the newly invested fund has raised a total of $19.5 million. Gotten from Silicon Valley accelerator, Y Combinator and Adjuvant Capital which in turn receives funding from both Novartis and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
However, 54gene has a long term revenue stream made up of mainly pharmaceutical firms in co-developing drugs and medicine. Returns from all drugs launched in the market will be shared by both 54gene and their partner.
Other steps to be taken include recruitment of staff into the various sections of the company, ranging from laboratory to finance. Particularly, they are in search of a new VP of finance.
Further, they employ research participants in Africa at the hospital and other health facilities to take genetic samples through blood or swab tests. Ene-Bong explained that, for the tests to be taken, participants must have given their informed consent.