New investors include Meritech Capital Partners and a prominent mutual fund group. They join existing investors Venrock and Domain Associates. The company is developing a directed approach to cell-free DNA (cfDNA) analysis in maternal blood to create a safe, highly accurate and affordable test for pregnant women. Aria will use the funds to support product development and prepare commercialization of its proprietary prenatal test to detect common fetal trisomies such as Trisomy 21, which is associated with Down syndrome.
The company is led by industry veterans including John Stuelpnagel, DVM, who serves as executive chairman and was previously the COO and co-founder of Illumina, Inc. Ken Song, MD, chief executive officer of Aria Diagnostics, will present at the upcoming 30th JP Morgan Annual Healthcare Conference on Jan. 12, 2012 at 8:30 a.m.
Additionally, Aria’s laboratory facility in San Jose, Calif., has received initial Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) certification. Administered under the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), CLIA establishes quality standards for all laboratory testing to ensure the accuracy, reliability and timeliness of patient test results.
“As our name implies, Aria is positioned to be a standout performer as we seek to improve the way in which cfDNA can be analyzed to identify the risk of genetic disorders in the fetus,” said Song. “We are encouraged by the interest in our company and strong financial support we have received, and the initial CLIA certification brings us one step closer to delivering a simple, objective blood test that will benefit pregnant women and their healthcare providers.”
Traditional prenatal testing options are limited and have significant drawbacks as they can be complicated, both for the healthcare provider and the patient, can be inaccurate, and can also expose the mother and fetus to potential harm. Aria is currently conducting clinical studies to evaluate the performance of its blood test in detecting fetal chromosomal conditions in pregnant women, with the first peer-reviewed data on the test published online Jan. 6, 2012 in Prenatal Diagnosis.