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With $7M Series A, Parse Biosciences Makes Gene Sequencing Accessible To All

Split Biosciences, a startup developing a single-cell sequencing kit that doesn’t require custom instrumentation, closed on $7 million in Series A funding and unveiled its new name, Parse Biosciences.

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The company, headquartered in Seattle, decided the new name was needed as its focus grew into other areas, Alex Rosenberg, co-founder and CEO, told Crunchbase News.

“Our name, Split Bio, was named after the academic method of SPLiT-seq, of where there was a huge amount of interest,” Rosenberg said. “Since being founded in 2018, we have made progress and are moving beyond the academic method, and Parse Biosciences shows where we are going as a company.”

Where they are going is toward democratizing cell sequencing, he said. The current process of sequencing cells involves taking tissue, essentially whipping it up in a blender — which diminishes cell resolution — and isolating each individual cell into a compartment.

Parse’s kit uses barcoding to label single cells without having to do that. Researchers can profile up to 100,000 cells in parallel across up to 48 samples, high data quality and the ability to increase gene detection in individual cells while reducing confounding artifacts that are common in single-cell sequencing experiments

Bioeconomy Capital led the round that also included participation from new and existing angel investors. The investment gives Parse a total of $9 million in funding, which includes $2 million in seed funding and grants, Rosenberg said.

Rob Carlson, managing director at Bioeconomy Capital, said via email that biology comes in units of single cells, and therefore, making progress in biology, whether that be understanding the interactions between organisms or drug discovery, will rely on high precision, quantitative methods and measurement to resolve the complex components of those single cells.

“Parse Bio’s first products enable widely available DNA sequencers to be used as multi-channel oscilloscopes for thousands of genes in each of hundreds of thousands of individual cells and sets a new standard for low error measurement,” he added. “These products meet fundamental needs as we build out the infrastructure for healthcare and biological engineering in the 21st century. We are excited to participate in bringing this new capability to labs worldwide.”

Researchers in both the pharmaceutical industry and academia are driving the acceleration of the global single-cell analysis market, which is expected to be a $7.7 billion market by 2027.

The new funding will enable Parse to meet that demand by adding to its team in the areas of sales, marketing and R&D to support efforts to push out new products, Rosenberg said.

The company launched its kits in the past year and is already working with 40 laboratories. The next step is to understand new applications for cell sequencing, which is being used to study areas such as COVID-19, neuroscience and species evolution.

“The field is growing, so the goal is to make it as easy as possible,” Rosenberg said. “Some customers have experience with sequencing, and others are just getting into this. Our focus is to get this into people’s hands.”

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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