Big data bioinformatics startup Spiral Genetics raises $3M

Spiral Genetics, a Seattle-based startup that helps researchers and others quickly analyze DNA sequence data, has raised $3 million in its first institutional round of funding.
The Series A round was led by venture firm DFJ and brings the startup’s total amount raised to $3.7 million. With the new funding, Adina Mangubat, Spiral Genetics co-founder and CEO, said her eight-person team plans to expand product development, as well as sales and marketing.
Mangubat said that when she and one of her co-founders, Becky Drees, first looked at the field of genomics, their plan was to launch a consumer-focused genetic testing service like 23andme. But as that company started launching its services, they decided to switch tacks.
“We were looking at the industry and we wanted to do something really impactful that involved genomics and computing,” she said. When they realized the speed and volume with which raw sequence data was being generated, she said, they spotted an opportunity in offering high-performance bioinformatics tools for analyzing it.
Companies like DNANexus also offer sequence analysis, and others might conduct the analysis in-house, but Mangubat said they envisioned a service that could shrink the turnaround time for researchers and others in industry deluged by data. Last month, Redwood City, Calif.-based Bina Technologies announced the commercial launch of its own genomic analysis platform and similarly touts a faster-than-ever service.
Mangubat and Drees teamed up with their third co-founder Jeremy Bruestle and started building a computing platform specifically intended to solve this kind of big data problem. Now, the company says, it can analyze a whole human genome in 3 hours, which is about 40 times faster than what it might take others.
Spiral Genetics’ customers run the gamut from academic researchers to corporations, Mangubat said. For example, while some clients may use their bioinformatics tool to tackle childhood cancer, others in agrigenomics could use it to sequence different strains of corn.
Along with the new funding, Spiral Genetics announced a new partnership with Omicia, an Emeryville, Calif.-based provider of clinical genome sequence interpretation tools.