CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Jan. 30, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Vizgen, a privately-held biotech company developing solutions for next-generation spatially resolved, single-cell transcriptomics, announced the closing of a $14 million Series A financing led by ARCH Venture Partners and Northpond Ventures. The investors have come together to accelerate productization of Vizgen's patented MERFISH (multiplexed error-robust fluorescence in situ hybridization) platform with the goal of empowering and commercializing this technology for research and development and eventual clinical use.
MERFISH is a quantitative and genome-scale multiplexed imaging technology for identifying nucleic acids in their native cellular and tissue environment [1, 2, 3]. MERFISH leverages error-correcting barcoding schemes and combinatorial labeling and imaging for near 100% detection efficiency and low false-positive rates at high throughput and low cost [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. Deep profiling of RNAs in single cells in their native context by MERFISH reveals cell type, state, organization, interactions, and function within the tissue , providing an unprecedented window into health and disease.
The MERFISH technology was developed in the laboratory of Dr. Xiaowei Zhuang, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and David B. Arnold Professor of Science at Harvard University. Dr. Zhuang was also the inventor of STORM, one of the first and most widely used super-resolution microscopy methods responsible for uncovering numerous novel cellular structures.
In addition to Dr. Zhuang, the co-founders of Vizgen also include David Walt, Ph.D., Core Faculty at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University, Professor of Pathology at Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Hansjörg Wyss Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard Medical School and Dr. Jeffrey Moffitt, Ph.D., Investigator at the Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine at Boston Children's Hospital and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Walt is a pioneer of single-molecule detection and analysis techniques and the scientific founder of Illumina Inc, Quanterix Corp, and several other cutting-edge life science companies. Dr. Walt will serve on Vizgen's Board of Directors. Dr. Moffitt co-invented MERFISH while a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Zhuang and is a leader in the field of spatially resolved single-cell transcriptomics.
"MERFISH is a game-changing technology in single-cell genomics and has broad applications in both fundamental biology and medicine," said Dr. Walt. "Error detection and correction enable researchers to get the right answer. Vizgen's patented technology is critical for powering this unprecedented massively multiplexed single molecule detection capability. We are excited that this funding will help us make the technology broadly accessible to the community, greatly amplifying its impact."
"We are proud to join proven innovators like Drs. Walt and Zhuang in bringing this breakthrough technology to market," said Keith Crandell, Co-founder and Managing Director at ARCH Venture Partners. "The deep information unlocked by MERFISH exposes biology at the network level, driving insights that will help us build the future of human health."
Vizgen is a privately held biotech company developing the next generation of spatially resolved, single-cell transcriptomics technology and toolbox. The company's patented MERFISH technology enables massively multiplexed, genome-scale nucleic acid imaging with high accuracy and detection efficiency at subcellular resolution. The high throughput and resolution and the low cost per cell achieved by the technology will enable a wide range of tissue-scale basic research and development and will be instrumental to efforts to discover and map cell types and states in a range of tissues and organisms. Tools employing MERFISH will advance data-driven drug discovery and development and enable new insights for clinical pathology and diagnostics. For more information, please visit www.vizgen.com.
ARCH Venture Partners is one of the largest early stage technology venture firms in the U.S. ARCH has co-founded and provided initial investments for more than 250 companies organized around innovations from research universities, national laboratories, corporate research groups and entrepreneurs. By focusing on leading scientific innovators, ARCH has been at the forefront of investing in major areas of innovation in the life sciences and physical sciences, and has helped to catalyze revolutionary advances in genomics, nanotechnology, industrial biotechnology and major disease treatments. ARCH has raised ten primary funds with combined committed capital at the time raised of approximately $4.5 billion. For more information please visit www.archventure.com.
The round was co-led by Northpond Ventures, a global venture capital firm dedicated to science and technology. Northpond's Sharon Kedar, the Co-Founder and Partner at the firm, will join the Vizgen team as a Board member.