InterVenn Biosciences Raises $34 Million for AI Cancer Test

By Bruce Harpham Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Artificial intelligence (AI) is joining the fight against cancer, thanks to InterVenn Biosciences. The company raised $34 million in funding from investors in its Series B funding round. In total, InterVenn has raised more than $77 million in funding. The San Francisco company plans to use its latest funding to bring an ovarian cancer diagnostic product to market.

What’s at Stake With Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is a significant illness affecting women around the world. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 21,000 women are forecast to receive an ovarian cancer diagnosis in 2020. About half of those diagnosed with the illness are age 63 or older. The society estimates that "[a] woman's risk of getting ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about 1 in 78,” which translates to 1.2%.

The InterVenn Biosciences product aims to help distinguish between benign and malignant tumors. With more accurate diagnosis information, ovarian cancer treatments may become more successful.

More Than Ovarian Cancer

InterVenn Biosciences technology is starting by focusing on ovarian cancer. However, the company is also exploring other potential types of cancers. The company’s Vista research product is used for ovarian, renal, lung, liver, prostate, and pancreatic cancer. Its product is aimed at improving cancer research rather than patient treatment.

By developing a highly accurate blood test for cancers, InterVenn’s product would make cancer diagnosis less invasive. With a blood test-based diagnostic, cancer testing might become more common in routine physical exams. As a result, more cancers could be detected and treated at an early stage.

After its ovarian cancer-focused product, InterVenn has several other applications in its product pipeline. For example, there is a response prediction and therapy selection product in development. This product would aid physicians in selecting the best therapy for their patients.

The company's other products mainly focus on the early detection of different types of cancer.

The Investors Behind InterVenn

Two lead investors are supporting InterVenn research: Anzu Partners and Genoa Ventures. Based in Washington D.C., Anzu Partners’s exits include Pivotal Systems, MultiMechanics, and Axsun Technologies.

Genoa Ventures, a venture capital firm based in San Francisco, focuses on life sciences companies. Zephyrus Biosciences, one of Genoa's previous investments, also created bioscience research tools.

InterVenn Is More Than AI Software

Like other biosciences firms, InterVenn's platform has multiple elements. The company's machine learning capabilities help with risk, signal detection, and quality monitoring. In addition, their product includes hardware and wetware components, and customers also gain access to a research database. Currently, InterVenn’s product pricing is not disclosed.

While the company has not stated when its diagnostic products will be available for sale, their distribution could be expected soon. John Leite recently joined the company as Chief Business Officer. This move suggests that InterVenn is getting closer to commercialization. Before joining InterVenn, Leite was Vice President of Oncology, Market Development & Product Marketing for Illumina’s Oncology Business Unit. Besides his business expertise, Leite also holds a Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics & Biochemistry from the University of Pittsburgh and has worked in research roles.

InterVenn’s Leadership Team

InterVenn’s leadership team combines business and scientific leaders. Founded in 2017, Aldo Carrascoso, co-founder and CEO, leads the company. Before InterVenn, Carrascoso was the co-founder of Veem and Jukin Video.

In addition, Carolyn Bertozzi and Carlito Lebrilla are scientific co-founders. Bertozzi is a professor of chemistry and professor of molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley. Her research background includes works on cancer, inflammation, and bacteria. Lebrilla is a chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular medicine professor at the University of California, Davis. Both Bertozzi and Lebrilla have been active in scientific research for years.

Other AI Cancer Projects

Apart from InterVenn, several other organizations are working on applying machine learning and AI to cancer research. Research published in Nature in March 2020 highlights several efforts to use AI in cancer testing. For example, researchers at New York University received approval to use AI in cancer diagnosis in October 2019.

The NYU AI tool can now recognize more than 150 types of cancer. By improving cancer diagnosis accuracy, researchers hope to reduce errors in hospitals. It is important to note that the NYU AI tool has only been approved for research use at this time. It is mostly focused on pattern recognition or classification to improve cancer diagnosis accuracy.

About the Author


Headshot for author Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is an author and marketing consultant based in Canada. His first book "Project Managers At Work" shared real-world success lessons from NASA, Google, and other organizations. His articles have been published in CIO.com, InfoWorld, Canadian Business, and other organizations. Visit BruceHarpham.com for articles, interviews with tech leaders, and updates on future books.

Related Articles