On-Q-ity, which raised a $26 million Series A round back in December 2009, quietly folded its tents last year after an unsuccessful bid to develop its technology for personalized cancer detection.
Bruce Booth, a partner at Atlas Ventures, 1 of the VC shops that backed the company (and a member of On-Q-ity’s board), detailed the reasons behind the decision this week on his blog, Life Sci VC.
Formed by the union of a pair of venture-backed firms that couldn’t raise Series B rounds during the arid summer of 2008, Waltham, Mass.-based On-Q-ity sought to develop personalized cancer biomarkers and a device to capture and characterize circulating tumor cells based on technology from its predecessors, Cellective Diagnostics and The DNA Repair Co.
But after On-Q-ity burned through some $15.6 million of the $26 million Series A financing in a futile bid to develop DNA repair biomarkers, Booth wrote, there wasn’t enough left in the till to cover the cost of a pivot toward the CTC technology.
"By mid-2010, only 6 months after the Series A came together, it was clear that the DNA repair biomarkers were going to be tough, as an early trial failed to reproduce the nice Kaplan-Meyer curves of the original academic work. By late 2010/early 2011, 2 more larger trials read out negatively so we decided to terminate that effort. But unfortunately those trials and the biomarker lab work required to support them consumed 60%+ of the capital in the Series A round," Booth wrote. "As we dug in to the status of the CTC platform, it was very clear that lots more work needed to be done – the paper descriptions of what it was supposed to deliver didn’t map to the platform’s actual robustness (or lack thereof) at that time. Antibodies that were supposedly functional turned out not to work, and several other things like this. An early LabCorp partnership fizzled because of this realization. Our new CSO and the R&D team rebuilt much of the platform and reagents from scratch, got it up and running in a reproducible and robust manner, validated it favorably against Veridex’ CTC approach with patient samples, and set us on sound technology footing. It was an impressive technology turnaround, frankly. But that took a year, and a very precious year. We were out of money at the start of 2012."
The sale of On-Q-ity’s remaining patents and intellectual property assets is just winding down now, according to Booth.
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