– TissueCypher® Barrett’s Esophagus Assay is First Precision Medicine Platform for Prevention of Esophageal Cancer 


PITTSBURGH, Penn., March 21 2018 — Cernostics, a privately-held company focused on delivering next-generation cancer diagnostics and prognostics, announced today that it has raised $2.5 million in Series A1 financing, led by Illumina Ventures. With this capital investment, Cernostics will be able to intensify its clinical and market development studies for the company’s TissueCypher® Barrett’s Esophagus Assay — the first test of its kind to predict risk of development of esophageal cancer in patients with Barrett’s esophagus.


Barrett’s esophagus, which affects more than three million Americans, occurs when chronic exposure to acid from the stomach causes the esophageal cell lining to deteriorate, creating an environment for cancer. Without treatment, Barrett’s can lead to esophageal adenocarcinoma, the fastest-rising cancer in the U.S. Today, the most common approach to managing Barrett’s is surveillance, involving regular endoscopic procedures with biopsy, monitoring for disease progression, and GERD-related drug therapy to control symptoms and prevent injury to the esophagus.


Traditional management of Barrett’s esophagus has left gaps in the diagnosis and grading of the disease. While early detection makes esophageal cancer preventable, both endoscopists and pathologists face challenges in determining which patients are truly at risk for progression of the disease. Cernostics’ TissueCypher Barrett’s Esophagus Assay was specifically designed to address these challenges by linking test performance to clinical outcome or progression to cancer, not level of dysplasia. By validating TissueCypher against progression to cancer, the test helps to mitigate challenges associated with sampling error and subjective diagnosis of histology grade.


“Esophageal cancer is highly lethal. By selecting the right candidates for treatment, we have tools to prevent people from getting this cancer,” said Jacques Bergman, MD PhD, Professor of Medicine and Endoscopy, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam. “Cernostics TissueCypher test is transformative for the gastroenterological field because it provides physicians with the precise information necessary to make the right decision about patient care.”


“Through the utilization of the TissueCypher Barrett’s Esophagus Assay and currently available endoscopic treatments there is no reason that a patient with Barrett’s esophagus should ever receive a diagnosis of esophageal cancer.  We have the precision medicine tools and technology to transform the care of these patients today,” said Mike Hoerres, Cernostics’ CEO. “With this investment by Illumina Ventures, Cernostics will accelerate efforts with GI community leaders and stakeholders to develop robust, transformative clinical evidence on the value of TissueCypher. Furthermore, we have a tremendous opportunity to impact a wider variety of GI diseases through development of additional precision medicine testing based on the TissueCypher Image Analysis Platform.”


“The best successes in reducing cancer deaths have been achieved through the use of precision molecular tools to identify cancer early, combined with effective early intervention, such as with cervical and colon cancer screening programs.” said Tom Willis, Partner at Illumina Ventures. “The genomics revolution is ushering in a next generation of these tests, such as TissueCypher, and Illumina Ventures is seeking to enable their success.”


With today’s investment from Illumina Ventures, Cernostics has raised a total of $13 million, including investments from UPMC Enterprises, Novitas Capital, Geisinger Health System, the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern PA.


About Cernostics

Cernostics is a leader in tissue-based diagnostic testing, providing diagnostic tests with deeper tissue insights, better patient outcomes and lower cost of care. Our mission is to quantify the complexity of the tissue system, providing physicians and patients with individualized, actionable information to improve outcomes and reduce the incidence and mortality of cancer.


Our proprietary technology platform, TissueCypher®, uniquely analyzes whole-slide digital images and is designed to provide greater information and accuracy than traditional tissue diagnostics. Cernostics’ lead product, the TissueCypher® Barrett’s Esophagus Assay, delivers the most comprehensive evaluation of esophageal cancer risk for Barrett’s esophagus patients currently available, providing actionable information to gastroenterologists, pathologists and patients. Cernostics is a client of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania and a resident company in Ben Franklin TechVentures®. For more information, visit https://tissuecypher1.wpengine.com.


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Lisa Bichsel