Grail merges with Cirina and confirms focus on early cancer detection
May 31, 2017 – MENLO PARK. GRAIL, Inc., a life sciences company whose mission is to detect cancer early when it can be cured, today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to combine with Cirina, Ltd., a privately held company that is also focused on the early detection of cancer. Cirina was co-founded by world renowned scientist in non-invasive molecular diagnostics, Dennis Lo, his colleagues Rossa Chiu and Allen Chan at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), and lead investor, Decheng Capital. The company is headquartered in Hong Kong with research and development teams in Hong Kong and South San Francisco.
Dr. Lo was the first scientist to discover the presence of circulating fetal DNA in a pregnant mother’s blood. Drs. Lo, Chiu and Chan have also been key contributors to the growing body of scientific evidence that cancer patients may be distinguished from healthy individuals using analyses of the plasma nucleic acid components of the bloodstream. Dr. Lo has been recognized with numerous prestigious awards for his discoveries and contributions to the field of non-invasive blood-based diagnoses, including the 2016 Future Science Prize in Life Sciences.
“Dennis Lo is one of the pre-eminent scientists in the field of plasma nucleic acids and genomics,” said Jeff Huber, chief executive officer of GRAIL. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work alongside Dennis and his team at Cirina, and also to collaborate with his colleagues Rossa Chiu and Allen Chan at CUHK. By combining our scientific expertise and resources, we will greatly enhance our ability to achieve our goal of reducing global cancer mortality through the early detection of cancer.”
Dr. Lo is being named a scientific co-founder of the combined entity and will join GRAIL’s scientific advisory board. Min Cui, founding partner and managing director of Decheng Capital, will join GRAIL’s Board of Directors as an observer. Maneesh Jain, chief executive officer of Cirina, will join the GRAIL team as well.
With this business combination, GRAIL will also expand its ability to make an impact globally by developing and commercializing products in Asian as well as Western markets. As an operating GRAIL subsidiary, Cirina has ongoing research collaborations with CUHK and looks forward to further consolidating this relationship.
“I have dedicated my career to unlocking the science of circulating DNA to advance our knowledge of human biology and disease,” said Dennis Lo, co-founder of Cirina. “I am looking forward to continuing the work we have started at Cirina with the team at GRAIL to make the promise of early cancer detection a global reality.”
GRAIL is using the power of high-intensity sequencing, population-scale clinical trials, and state of the art Computer Science and Data Science to enhance the scientific understanding of cancer biology and develop blood tests for early-stage cancer detection. The company’s funding was led by ARCH Venture Partners and includes Amazon, Bezos Expeditions, Bill Gates, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene, GV, Illumina, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Merck, McKesson Ventures, Sutter Hill Ventures, Tencent, Varian Medical Systems, and other financial partners.