Guardant Health adds $360 million to its war chest

Guardant Health, a four-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based biotech company that sells blood tests to track and potentially detect cancer, has raised a whopping $360 million from investors, bringing its total funding to $550 million. SoftBank led the round, with participation from Sequoia Capital, Khosla Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, OrbiMed, 8VC, numerous funds and accounts managed by T. Rowe Price, and Temasek, among others.

The company has huge ambitions to allow doctors to see the entirety of a cancer with just two teaspoons of blood — versus seeing part of the disease by taking a biopsy of it.

As CEO Helmy Eltoukhy explained to us last year, “The way it works is as these tumors grow rapidly, they are also dying rapidly and shedding their content into the bloodstream, including their DNA signature. [Over time] we’ve made our sequencing technology about 1,000 to 10,000 times more accurate in order to see those fragments of DNA. It’s akin to the difference between high-resolution TV and old black-and-white technologies. Because we can see those trace fragments, we can reconstruct the genome.”

Guardant says it matches tissue biopsies with 99.3 percent diagnostic accuracy, and that it often discovers more mutations than doctors could find otherwise.

The company’s goal is to help one million people over the next five years with its test.

It’ll face some stiff competition along the way. In March, Grail, a blood-test startup spun out of DNA sequencing giant Illumina last year, announced a $900 million round that includes Bristol-Myers Squibb and Johnson & Johnson. It’s also racing toward clinical trials with its cancer-screening technology.

In March, Freenome, another liquid biopsy diagnosis platform that detects the cell-free DNA sequencing of cancer, also raised a huge round. The $65 million Series A financing was led by Andreessen Horowitz, which also led the company’s $5.5 million seed round less than a year ago.