What You Should Know:
– Haystack Oncology (“Haystack”), an oncology company that applies the next generation of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) detection technology raises $56M in Series A financing led by Catalio Capital Management (“Catalio”), which co-founded Haystack through its private equity and structured equity investment vehicles. Additional investors include Bruker, Exact Ventures, the venture arm of Exact Sciences and Alexandria Venture Investments.
– The funding will be used for the continued development and planned 2023 commercialization of its best-in-class personalized cancer diagnostic test that can detect as few as one mutant molecule in a million DNA molecules, positioning it as the most sensitive ctDNA-based MRD test for use in solid tumors.
Transformative Precision Oncology
Haystack was co-founded in 2021 by Drs. Bert Vogelstein, Ken Kinzler and Nick Papadopoulos, and Mr. Joshua Cohen of Johns Hopkins University, alongside CEO Dan Edelstein and CTO Dr. Frank Holtrup. Drs. Vogelstein, Kinzler and Papadopoulos head the Ludwig Center at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, where they are developing novel methods for early cancer detection. Previously, Drs. Vogelstein and Kinzler were scientific co-founders of Exact Sciences, and later Drs. Vogelstein, Kinzler and Papadopoulos co-founded Thrive Earlier Detection Corp., which sold to Exact Sciences in January 2021. Mr. Edelstein and Dr. Holtrup have both held C-level roles in other liquid-biopsy-based diagnostics companies, including Inostics, a liquid biopsy testing company also co-founded by Drs. Vogelstein and Kinzler.
Haystack leverages over two decades of pioneering research in liquid biopsy technologies to detect with high sensitivity and specificity the presence of any traces of MRD – small numbers of residual tumor DNA molecules left in the body following initial treatment. These ctDNA molecules are a marker of the presence of cancer and indicate that the disease will recur. Haystack’s testing is designed to help inform clinical interventions by creating personalized diagnostic panels to customize optimal treatment plans for each patient, independent of a tumor’s origin.
A version of Haystack’s technology was utilized in the landmark DYNAMIC clinical study of stage II colon cancer patients post-surgery. Results from the study were reported earlier this year at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting and published in the New England Journal of Medicine1, demonstrating that applying Haystack’s ctDNA-guided approach to the treatment of stage II colon cancer significantly reduced the use of adjuvant chemotherapy without compromising recurrence risk or survival at two years.
The company plans to use the proceeds to expand accessibility to its groundbreaking ctDNA-based MRD testing platform, Haystack Duo™, a low-error rate, next-generation chemistry that enables ultrasensitive and personalized MRD testing. Haystack’s tumor-informed liquid-biopsy-based test begins with tissue-based whole-exome sequencing to identify patient-specific tumor mutations. A personalized MRD test is then developed to detect ctDNA from residual, recurrent or resistant disease.