EvoNexus Portfolio Company, Pleno, Snags $40 Million to Uncover Biomarkers to Help Fight Disease

EvoNexus Portfolio Company, Pleno, Snags $40 Million to Uncover Biomarkers to Help Fight Disease

“Pleno is the third venture founded by serial entrepreneur Dr. Pieter van Rooyen to come to EvoNexus. Pleno is an excellent example of the convergence of technology across sectors,” said Rory Moore, CEO & Co-Founder of EvoNexus. “Just as Pieter’s previous EvoNexus company, Edico Genome, impacted the speed of gene sequencing, Pleno is leveraging communication industry techniques to provide a transformative platform to create more comprehensive and timely clinical diagnostics. EvoNexus is experiencing a new wave of experienced, senior entrepreneurs with deep industry backgrounds that are now launching new companies.”

OCT. 12, 2022 /The San Diego Union-Tribune/

San Diego’s Pleno, a startup that’s using signal processing techniques from cellular communications to increase the number of biological targets that can be detected for research and medical diagnostics, has landed $40 million in a Series A round of venture capital funding.

This new money comes on top of a seed round that Pleno corralled in May. It brings the total raised by the 24-employee company to about $50 million.

Pleno is the latest entrepreneurial venture of Pieter van Rooyen, who previously founded Edico Genome. The company developed the DRAGEN platform, a combination of hardware and software that accelerates the processing of mountains of data produced by genomic sequencing equipment.

San Diego’s Illumina acquired Edico Genome about four years ago for $100 million, and DRAGEN remains a branded staple of Illumina’s next generation sequencing product portfolio.

With Pleno, van Rooyen is tapping techniques from the telecom industry to find biological information — including DNA, RNA, methylation and proteomic markers. The goal is to significantly increase the scale of diagnostic and research testing beyond what can be achieved by today’s Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) instruments, while matching PCR’s simple workflow, low costs and short run times.

“Pleno’s team has developed a versatile platform at the intersection of technology and life sciences which has the potential to disrupt existing sequencing and multi-omic approaches that are critical for drug development and clinical diagnostics,” said Dr. Andrew ElBardissi, a partner at Deerfield Management, which led the latest funding round.

Foresite Capital, which invests in the life sciences sector, also participated. Dr. Vik Bajaj, managing director at Foresite, said by keeping costs down, Pleno’s technology has the potential to broaden access to methods for uncovering the molecular drivers of disease, particularly cancer.

The new funding will accelerate the development of Pleno’s trademarked Hypercoding technology. Its first instrument, called Raptor, is expected to be available next year to select early access customers, with full availability coming in 2024.

“The overwhelming interest already received from potential customers has clearly shown just how important this technology is and how much it is needed across a wide variety of applications, ranging from early cancer screening, non-invasive prenatal testing and infectious diseases, to pharmacogenomics, proteomics and agri-genomics,” said van Rooyen.

SOURCE: Mike Freeman, The San Diego Union-Tribune