A recent analysis showing that antibiotic-resistant infections were responsible for at least 1.2 million deaths around the world in 2019—a number that could actually reach as high as 5 million and far outstrips other widespread infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria.
On the heels of this stark evidence of what’s being referred to as “a hidden pandemic,” Day Zero Diagnostics is doubling down on its mission of developing tools to identify and profile those bacterial diseases as early as possible.
The Boston-based company recently received an outpouring of support for that goal—$21 million of support, to be exact. The funding round closed with support from BD, Panacea Venture, Hongkou Capital, Triventures and Golden Seeds. It was led by Sands Capital.
The new funding nearly doubles Day Zero’s fundraising total to date. It’s now pooled more than $33 million in VC equity financing and another $10 million in non-dilutive capital since being founded in 2016 by a group of clinicians and scientists hailing from Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital.
Day Zero’s diagnostic uses machine learning and whole-genome sequencing to profile bacterial pathogens, helping healthcare providers quickly determine which drugs will work best to fight an antibiotic-resistant infection.
The diagnostic process begins with Day Zero’s BacDetect platform, which establishes whether a blood sample contains any bacterial DNA and therefore should be sequenced at all. If bacterial DNA is detected, it’s enriched in the sample and prepared for processing with the Blood2Bac technology.
In just a matter of hours, relying on high-throughput sequencing and its Keynome machine learning technologies—the latter of which have been trained on the MicrohmDB database of pathogen sequencing data—Day Zero’s diagnostic system can then identify a pathogen’s species, determine which antibiotics won’t work against it and spot certain qualities that may make it susceptible to other treatments.
The latest round of financing will help the company wrap up the product engineering phase of the technology, while also expanding its DZD Lab Services initiative, which was established with the help of its previous $8.6 million haul in 2019 and offers sequencing-based infection-tracking tools to clinicians.
The funding round comes with an additional dose of support from BD, a new backer for Day Zero. The medtech giant will send Brooke Story, its president of integrated diagnostic solutions, to the startup’s board of directors in an observer role.
“We have been following the work done at DZD for a few years,” Story said in a statement. “We believe that genome sequencing will play an important role in infectious disease diagnostics in the future, and the DZD technologies have the potential to play a leading role in that evolution.”
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