SAN CARLOS — Helix, a genomics company that has created the first online store for DNA-powered products, has announced the first close of an expected $200 million Series B financing round led by DFJ Growth, with participation from all its founding investors which include Illumina, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, Mayo Clinic, Sutter Hill Ventures, and Warburg Pincus.
Barry Schuler, Partner at DFJ Growth and former Chairman and CEO of America Online, will join the Helix Board of Directors. Helix will use this financing to continue to accelerate consumer adoption of genomics via the expansion of its trusted marketplace.
“The genomics revolution has begun and Helix is democratizing access to DNA for developers while giving consumers a safe and secure way to manage their own genomic data. We believe the Helix business model will stimulate an explosion of innovation in personal genomics products allowing people to take an active role in managing their health and well-being,” said Schuler. “The Helix team has built a unique offering and an exceptional vision which will become the standard platform where consumers buy personalized genomic services as easily as they buy smartphone apps. We are very excited to join them on their journey to build a significant enterprise.”
Unlike other personal genomics companies that require a separate DNA sample for each product they provide, Helix collects and sequences a DNA sample once, and then securely stores and protects a customer’s data so they can access additional DNA-powered products and services from the Helix store without providing another saliva sample. Today, the Helix store includes 35 products from 20 partners and that number will grow to over 50 products in 2018 with major launches including health products from partners like Mayo Clinic. Each product is evaluated by the Helix scientific team and must meet the requirements of the company’s Scientific Evidence Evaluation (SEE) process, which evaluates the underlying scientific content and claims of each partner product.
“We are excited to support Helix in their effort to make personal genomics accessible,” said Keith Stewart, M.B., Ch.B., Carlson and Nelson Endowed Director at the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine. “Mayo Clinic aims to provide individuals with health insights about their genetic data, empowering them with a deeper understanding of their health and information that they can trust.”
“Helix is proving how a Next Generation Sequencing platform can drive incredible innovation, by engaging individuals and empowering them to interact with DNA and enhance their lives,” said Jay Flatley, Executive Chairman, Illumina. “Of the estimated 12 million people who have purchased a consumer genomics service to date, more than seven million did so for the first-time in 2017. We are clearly at an inflection point in personal genomics and Helix is well-positioned to take advantage of this growth.”
Helix operates one of the world’s largest CLIA-and-CAP-accredited Next Generation Sequencing laboratories. Powered by Illumina technologies, Helix uses its proprietary Exome+ assay to sequence each customer’s 20,000 protein-coding genes as well as additional information-rich areas identified by Helix’s scientific team. This yields 100 times more data than microarrays commonly used by other consumer-focused companies. To ensure customer privacy and protection, each partner can only access the window of information relevant to their product ensuring the consumer has total control of their DNA.