Diagnostic Startup Developing Prenatal Tests Seeks $10M

Posted in Medical Venture Capital by Arundhati Parmar on July 22, 2013

A New York startup is aiming to provide an alternative to the traditional prenatal blood tests by developing a DNA test that analyzes fetal cells that are intact within a maternal blood sample.

The company - KellBenx - is seeking $10 million, according to a regulatory filing. Previously, it appears to have raised $2.5 million in the second quarter of 2011.

Aside from developing a non-invasive, DNA-based diagnostic test to detect genetic abnormalities in fetuses, KellBenx is also aiming to develop a breakthrough test to determine a pregnant woman's chances of delivery prematurely.

Currently, pregnant women have the choice of undergoing a blood test that are not accurate enough or more invasive and risky tests like amniocentesis that may result in miscarriage in order to determine whether the fetus has genetic disorders.

Founded in 2010, the company is led by Hassan Bennani, KellBenx's CEO, and Leonard Kellner is its president and chairman. Both men worked at Lenetix, a women's health-focused lab  - Kellner was CEO there - before it got acquired by Bio-Reference Laboratories for $5.5 million.  

KellBenx is not the only company developing a non-invasive test to shake up the field of prenatal testing. A California startup Natera looks at DNA fragments of fetal matter within maternal blood to run diagnostic tests. That company raised a whopping $54.6 million in the second quarter becoming one of the top five startups that raised the most venture money in the second quarter of 2013

[Photo Credit: user AlexSava]

-- By Arundhati Parmar, Senior Editor, MD+DI

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