Tasso, the maker of a product that lets patients collect their own blood at home, raised $6.1 million in a round led by Vertical Ventures Partners. Startup accelerator Techstars and Los Angeles-based hospital Cedars-Sinai also invested in the round.
The Seattle-based startup said the blood sample device, called Tasso OnDemand, should be available by the middle of this year. The idea is that people can 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, providing regular feedback for researchers and doctors while making the process easier for patients.
The company developed the 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).
Tasso was started by Dr. Ben Casavant and Dr. Erwin Berthier, who both received doctorates in biomedical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“We are excited to work with VVP on furthering our mission of patient-centric blood collection,” said Casavant, who serves as Tasso’s CEO. “With the additional support of Techstars and Cedars-Sinai, we are well positioned to transform clinical blood testing by making it painless and convenient.”
Tasso has pilot programs with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Cedars-Sinai and others.
Vertical Ventures invests in early-stage tech companies across a range of industries. The VC firm’s other healthcare investments include health data company Roam and GE Ventures spinout Menlo Micro.
Vertical Ventures partner Brad Corona said the company was looking to sell the product to labs and pharmaceutical companies. “Blood collection hasn’t changed in decades, and judging from the strong early interest from commercial partners, it’s time,” he said.
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.