citybiz+ Cancer-detection Startup Epi One Raises $1 Million in Angel Round

Epi One, which is developing improved technologies to detect cancer, has raised $1 million in an angel round. The New York startup did not name the investors. So far, the company has raised $3.1 million from investors.

Founded by Neng Yang and Sophia F. Fang, Epi One leverages a novel epigenetic biomarker platform to improve detection rates for a wide variety of cancers. Both have MD and PhD degrees, Sophia from U.S. and Chinese universities, and Neng from Chinese institutions.

Multiple Biomarkers

Fang serves as president and chief scientific officer. She was previously a senior scientist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Cornell Medical College. Her research was focused on human genomics and translational cancer biology.

Yang, an expert in next-generation sequencing technology, immunology, and CAR T-cell immunotherapy, serves as vice president of R&D. She was previously a research associate at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Cornell Medical College.

Epi One says it has used it “cutting-edge, high-throughput technology, along with proprietary computational algorithms, to build several biomarkers for cancer diagnosis and prognosis. The biomarkers have an over 95% accuracy rate for tissue tests and over 70% rates for blood tests. Epi One’s biomarker has received clinical validation for prostate, lung and pancreatic cancers, with sensitivity rates of up to 97% and specificity rates of up to 100%.

Diagnosis Kits on Way

Epi One says its assays can be produced at scale, making it faster and cheaper to detect cancer when compared with sequencing-based technology. It aims to eventually build FDA-approved diagnosis kits for mass distribution.

The company is led by Michael Marquardt, a member of the national board of the American Cancer Society and currently the chair of its first enterprise-wide fundraising campaign. Marquardt has previously served as CEO of four companies.

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“I am leading a cutting-edge biotech startup that is on a mission to revolutionize early cancer detection and accurate diagnosis,” Marquardt said on LinkedIn.

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“I am passionate about ending cancer as we know it, for everyone, after losing several loved ones to the disease. My dedication to fighting cancer led me to chair the national board of the American Cancer Society where I championed the first female CEO appointment in the organization’s 100+ year history,” he added.

The New York company’s technology is seen as a big improvement over existing cancer detection systems. Currently, some tumor types, such as pancreatic cancer, cannot be detected at all, while for some others, such as prostate cancer, there is a high false-negative rate. Also, most liquid biopsy diagnosis depends on either sequencing-based technology or complex combination tests.