Nucleus Genomics, a genetic testing company focused on calculating a patient's risk of certain diseases, is adding $14 million to their initial seed funding round. With this round the company has raised, in total, $17.5 million.
This "seed plus" funding round was led by Alexis Ohanian’s 776. Ohanian is joining investors like Founders Fund, Adrian Aoun (CEO at Forward Health), Brent Saunders (former CEO at Allergan), Matteo Franceschetti (CEO at Eight Sleep) and others. Nucleus originally announced a $3.5 million seed round back in December of 2021.
Typically, Nucleus users will upload their own genetic results previously obtained by an at-home testing company like 23andMe or Ancestry. Then Nucleus will calculate polygenic risk scores, which is a measure that provides a genetic predisposition for a potential condition, and provide information about said risk on their platform. Customers also have the option of ordering their own genetic testing kit provided by the company.
Polygenic risk scores have been scrutinized for their potential bias. In a study published in the National Library of Medicine, close to 80% of participants in genetic studies (and the base of evaluation) have been from European descent, and does not account for demographic differences, like race.
"In genetics, they’re so European biased, so when we actually build models we want to make sure the models work for everyone, not just the United States, or anything out there," said founder and CEO Kian Sadeghi.
Although Nucleus allows users to upload their genetic info obtained by a third-party, Sadeghi said there is “no need for a formal partnership” with those companies.
Up to now the company has been “focused on assessing risk,” but funds from this round will be used to grow their current team across different areas. Additionally, the company will be establishing their own genetic testing infrastructure and buying testing kits in bulk.
Sadeghi added, he wants (and will allow) users to be in the most control of their data.
When a user signs up on the platform they are asked how they would like their data to be shared, if even, in addition to providing the option, if users would like, to provide data to research groups to “advance research and medicine” according to the company.
“Nucleus believes very much in kind of a foundational data ownership and control,” Sadeghi said. “We are built in our DNA, so to speak, on maximal data ownership, and data control. You decide if your data is shared, and if so with who, when and how.”
However, the company has yet to launch mainstream and it is unclear how this will look for users on the company’s platform.
The company suggested in an interview with TechCrunch there would be a possibility they expand into an international market, and for Sadeghi he said it aligns with the vision he’s had since day one.
“When we say human genome and every smartphone, we're not kidding,” Sadeghi said. “We really see a world beyond just the boundaries of the United States where people can engage and interact and take agency over their health.”