Tasso raises $17M for self-sample blood test; CEO says pandemic increases demand for at-home tests

(Tasso Photo)

Seattle startup Tasso closed a $17 million investment round to help grow its at-home blood collection platform.

The company’s blood sample device, called Tasso OnDemand, lets people take their own blood at home and mail it to a lab directly rather than go to a clinic. This allows for more frequent testing to monitor a drug’s effects on the blood, for example, and also lets people submit samples without going into a physical office.

Tasso was started by Dr. Ben Casavant and Dr. Erwin Berthier, who both received doctorates in biomedical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“The coronavirus pandemic has underscored the surging demand for more diagnostic solutions that are patient-friendly and can be deployed easily at home,” Casavant, the company’s CEO, said in a statement. “The Tasso OnDemand devices are enabling people to be tested for COVID-19 and many other routine diagnostic applications, from anywhere at any time.”

Tasso has pilot programs with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Cedars-Sinai, and others. It is working with Fred Hutch to test for COVID-19 antibodies in serum as part of a study, with samples being mailed back from patients who don’t need to come into a clinic.

The 8-year-old company and Techstars grad developed its platform using $13.1 million of grant funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and the National Institute of Health (NIH).

Quest and LabCorp dominate the diagnostics industry, which a number of startups have tried to disrupt through at-home or direct-to-consumer testing. EverlyWell, a startup that received funding through “Shark Tank” and offers a menu of health tests based on samples collected at home, has drawn scrutiny from experts over its accuracy. EveryWell sells an FDA-approved COVID-19 at-home test.

Other competitors include Scanwell, Thriva, WellnessFX, Baze, myLAB, LetsGetChecked, and more. A pair of Portland startup vets recently launched Reperio Health, a subscription service that will deliver a kit containing devices for testing health metrics.

Hambrecht Ducera Growth Ventures led the Series A round, which included participation from Foresite Capital, Merck Global Health Innovation Fund, Vertical Venture Partners, Techstars, and Cedars-Sinai. Elizabeth Hambrecht, partner at Hambrecht Ducera Growth Ventures, has joined Tasso’s board.

“With its talented team and proven technology platform, Tasso is poised to transform the traditional, painful, in-person blood draw process, which has been the standard of care for the past six decades,” Hambrecht said in a statement.

To date, Tasso has raised $38.6 million to date in grants, private investments, and co-development collaborations. It previously raised a $6.1 million round in March.

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