Health, Wellness & Biotech

Tempus Raises $275M To Combat Three Of Drugmaking’s Biggest Challenges

Illustration of $100 bills.

This is not your average raise.

Biotech upstart Tempus announced on Thursday it raised $275 million through equity from previous investors and debt financing from Ares Management. The company has raised over $1.3 billion, per Crunchbase.  

This is a pretty big raise, and for good reason: The Tempus technology targets three niches undergoing the biggest change in data-focused care right now: drug discovery, clinical trials and diagnostics.

Chicago-based Tempus specializes in artificial intelligence and precision medicine for a slew of different use cases. Using AI, the platform can help doctors understand disease progression and what is driving the disease. It can also find the proper patients for a clinical trial. Through genomic sequencing, the platform can analyze patient health at the granular level, enabling physicians to understand why a patient has a disease. 

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Earlier this week, Tempus nabbed $70 million from GSK to use their patient data to improve speed and efficiency in clinical trials. The three-year partnership is expected to help GSK enroll new patients and find new drug targets.

Why does this matter?

Decades of research advocating for more precise data collection is now becoming a reality thanks to advances in genomics, AI and computational engineering. Together, they are driving the largest overhaul to the expensive and failure-prone drugmaking and health system. 

We’ve talked extensively about AI in drug discovery and how it’s being used to find new targets in the body for drugs to “stick” to. It’s a booming space—earlier this month saw several funding rounds in this space: Nested Therapeutics raised $125 million to look for cancer targets. Cellarity raised $121 million to search for novel targets through cell observation. Pleno raised $40 million to look for biological patterns that may lead to target identification. 

Then there’s clinical trials, which underwent massive policy changes during the pandemic to continue running while remote. Finding patients for clinical trials is difficult because a drug may require a patient with a specific kind of cancer at a specific stage, and the patient has to be within a specific age range to participate. Patient data is being leveraged to find more patients that fit a specific niche to undergo clinical trials and procure more accurate data on drugs’ safety and efficacy. 

Lastly, we have diagnostics. Most technology can’t separate a benign cell from a cancerous cell until much further down the line, but thanks to genomics and artificial intelligence, data is being used to find diseases at an earlier stage. This has the potential to save the health care system billions of dollars, ease demand for health care services at a time when hospitals and clinics are overwhelmed, and look for new targets in disease management. Digital Diagnostics raised $75 million in August as part of a new wave of startups entering the diagnostics space. 

Illustration: Dom Guzman

This story has been updated to reflect how the platform is used.

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