Sano Genetics has raised £2.5 million in seed funding for its long COVID research.
The money will fund a free, at-home DNA testing kit for 3,000 people who have been affected by the long-term effects of coronavirus.
In addition, it will support the development and expansion of the business’ team and tech platform.
The ‘private-by-design’ platform will give users ‘full control and transparency’ over how researchers use their personal data.
The startup company, founded in 2017 by three postgraduates studying genomics at Cambridge University, uses technology to support precision medicine for chronic and rare diseases.
Recognising issues around recruitment and retention of volunteers in clinical trials, and poor experiences for patients with research projects, the company aims to guide participants and increase participation. This latest finance boost will also be coupled with a grant courtesy of Innovate UK.
Charlotte Guzzo, chief operating officer of Sano Genetics, says: “We urgently need more people contributing to medical science, but the gap between those wanting to take part and actually know how to is huge.
“The scientific community has long relied on time-starved doctors signposting patients to clinical trials, which just isn’t an effective way to get decent levels of participation.
“The pandemic has added further challenges, as many patients with rare and chronic diseases are unable to safely leave home.”
She adds: “A technology-first, direct-to-patient approach has been long overdue. This tranche of funding will help us further develop the end-to-end experience for the many people keen to contribute to personalised medical research, including clinical trials of potentially life-changing medicines and, in doing so, improve the outlook for people living with chronic and often debilitating conditions.”
Sano Genetics’ remote genetic testing capabilities assist greater participation for research in a number of areas. These do or have included multiple sclerosis, ankylosing spondylitis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and ulcerative colitis. An additional research programme for Parkinson’s disease is planned for later in 2021.
In partnership with Genomics England, Sano Genomics will also develop software to be used by national-scale precision medicine initiatives and improve the participant experience. This will include reporting participant information such as daily symptom tracking, or activity and sleep monitoring via wearable devices.