Mitra Biotech raises $27.4 million in Series B funding led by Sequoia India

"These new funds will allow us to enhance our technology and engage in new studies to further demonstrate CANScript’s clinical utility," said Mallikarjun Sundaram.“These new funds will allow us to enhance our technology and engage in new studies to further demonstrate CANScript’s clinical utility,” said Mallikarjun Sundaram.

BENGALURU: Mitra Biotech, a company that develops and provides novel technologies that personalise cancer treatment, has raised $27.4 million (approx Rs 183 crore) in a Series-B funding co-led by Sequoia India and Washington-based Sands Capital Ventures, and with participation from Boston-based RA Capital Management and existing investors Accel Partners and Tata Capital Innovations Fund. This round provides an exit to Series-A investors Karnataka Information Technology Venture Capital Fund (KITVEN) and India Innovation Fund.

Mitra will use the funds to expand the availability of its CANScript service, which predicts personalised responses to cancer treatments. “These new funds will allow us to enhance our technology and engage in new studies to further demonstrate CANScript’s clinical utility. We will also move forward with our commercial efforts in the United States, India and other key markets,” said Mallikarjun Sundaram, chief executive of Mitra. Before founding Mitra, Sundaram,who completed bachelor of pharmacy (BPharm) from IIT-BHU, was a scientific cofounder of listed pharmaceutical products company Momenta Pharmaceuticals.

He helped develop some of Momenta’s key drugs. Sundaram also holds a PhD in Biotechnology from the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, and an MBA from the Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania. Mitra Biotech is also a winner of the ‘top innovator’ category in the ETStartup Awards 2016. Sundaram and his cofounder Pradip KMajumder decided to have their main R&D facility in Bengaluru to gather crucial clinical data.

“We were very clear that a successful model can be possible only with a high clinical co-relation. We came here (Bengaluru) due to a larger presence of hospitals,” said Sundaram. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, managing director of biotechnology firm Biocon, put them in touch with Narayana Health City in Bengaluru, where they currently work. Mitra Biotech also has its sales office in Massachusetts.

“Accel is proud to continue our investment and active involvement with Mitra. We also welcome our new investment partners and look forward to working with them,” said Mahendran Balachandran, partner at Accel and Mitra Board member. The startup’s patented technology platform CANScript helps hospitals and doctors find the right combination and sequence of drugs to be administered to cancer patients.

The platform enables physicians to select the most optimal drug combination by testing a tumour sample against various drug combinations simultaneously in a laboratory setting that mimics the actual human tumour microenvironment. The test ranks various drug combinations in order of effectiveness, thereby eliminating non-optimal drugs. CANScript needs about a week to test samples and classify the various drug combinations. For the patient, Mitra’s test helps avoid toxicity from non-optimal drugs and is also a huge cost-saving step.

Sequoia India and Sands Capital Ventures representatives will join Mitra’s board of directors. “Sequoia is pleased to join Mitra in their mission to have cancer patients receive treatments with the highest likelihood of success at the time when they can be most impactful,” said Anjana Sasidharan, principal at Sequoia and Mitra’s new board member.

Mitra’s clients include leading cancer care hospitals such as Healthcare Global (HCG) Group of Hospitals, Apollo Hospital-Delhi and Fortis Hospital-Delhi. “CANScript has the potential to speed oncology drug discovery and development by matching compounds to their indications of highest impact,” said Ian Ratcliffe, new Mitra board member representing Sands.
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