In a deal valued at up to $2.15 billion, Wisconsin-based molecular diagnostics company Exact Sciences Corp. acquired a cancer-detecting blood test developed by a trio of Johns Hopkins researchers.
The efforts of the Hopkins researchers, working under the banner of the Thrive Earlier Detection Corp., were backed by more than $350 million from a group of investors led by Third Rock Ventures of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Third Rock partner Christoph Lengauer (MBA ’01) has served as chief innovation officer and lead strategist for Thrive since its spring 2019 inception.
With Thrive’s technology, Lengauer says, “Minute amounts of tumor DNA can be detected in the blood often many years earlier than when a cancer is identified by symptoms. This spring we finished a study of 10,000 women which demonstrated that our blood test can double the number of cancers first caught by screening rather than by symptoms.”
As Lengauer explains, the involvement of Third Rock Ventures in this and similar initiatives goes beyond financial backing. “We ideate, launch, and build companies,” he says. “We only invest in companies that we build. Members of the Third Rock team not only serve on Thrive’s board of directors but also take on major operational and managerial leadership responsibilities in the company.”