Feb 24, 2020 - Health

Blood test startup Karius raises $165 million

Photo: Donat Sorokin\TASS via Getty Images

Karius, a startup that tests for and identifies infectious diseases, has raised $165 million in a new funding round led by SoftBank's Vision Fund 2.

The big picture: Diagnosing infections is difficult and time-consuming, but Karius says its sequencing test makes the process easier and quicker because everything can be done from standard blood draws.

How it works: Hospitals pay $2,000 for every Karius test, which involves getting a patient's blood and shipping the samples to Karius' lab in California, said Karius CEO and co-founder Mickey Kertesz.

  • The test, which has some company-funded research, extracts a certain kind of DNA from the blood and tests it for 1,400 microbes. That differs from other companies that also test for pathogens from blood.
  • Karius then reports what the specific infection is within 24 hours, instead of spending days or weeks on multiple tests, and that informs doctors of what treatment to use.

Between the lines: Theranos has created a wave of skepticism with blood testing. But 100 hospitals already use the Karius test, and the company has been "very open about what we do" to hospitals and investors, Kertesz said.

  • He plans to use the new funding to conduct more clinical research of Karius' test, as well as develop its technology.
  • The money will also go toward a sales push to get more hospitals to use the test. He did not disclose revenues or test volume.
  • "Hospitals can save a lot of money and [improve] mortality, compared to what they would otherwise spend on invasive biopsies or extended stays in the ICU," Kertesz said.

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