Flagship forms new bio-AI firm Harbinger Health to detect early cancer

Flagship has unveiled the new company with $50m committed capital, after three years of research and development

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Harbinger is dedicated to early cancer detection. (Credit: PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay.)

US-based life sciences venture capital firm Flagship Pioneering has launched Harbinger Health, a new bio-platform company dedicated for the detection of early cancer.

Backed by $50m committed capital from Flagship, the new company has been unveiled after three years of research and development.

Harbinger Health, which was founded in Flagship Labs in 2018, makes use of insights into the biology of cancer, combined with AI and Machine Learning technologies, to enable blood test that identifies cancer before it is symptomatic.

Its HarbingerHx platform is capable of creating a new pathway for cancer diagnosis, allowing early therapeutic interventions or prevention.

Former US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner and MD Anderson Cancer Centre chief medical executive Stephen Hahn will lead Harbinger Health as CEO.

Appointed as chief medical officer for Flagship’s pre-emptive medicine and health security initiative earlier this year, Hann will now become Flagship CEO-Partner.

Hahn said: “Harbinger Health is poised to redefine our approach to oncology, moving beyond cancer ‘staging,’ and toward early detection that enables the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and ultimately to effectively reduce morbidity and mortality associated with the disease.

“We are committed to developing our platform so there is access to early cancer detection for all individuals with a simple test. No one should be disadvantaged in the fight against cancer – it’s our goal to bring the power of this platform not only to those with access to the top cancer centers – but to everyone.”

Established in 2000, Flagship is engaged in conceiving, creating, and developing advanced bioplatform companies to enhance the human health.

Through its Flagship Labs unit, the company has applied its unique hypothesis-driven process to create more than 100 scientific ventures, worth more than $200bn.

It has deployed over $2.5bn in capital toward the founding and growth of its pioneering companies alongside more than $19bn of follow-on investments from other institutions.

Flagship backs companies including Axcella Health, Codiak BioSciences, Denali Therapeutics, Evelo Biosciences, Foghorn Therapeutics, Kaleido Biosciences, and Moderna, among others.

Harbinger Health co-founder and chairman Doug Cole said: “Harbinger Health has the potential to revolutionize the way we detect, diagnose, and treat cancer, enabling interventions at a much earlier phase of the disease than is currently possible.

“Unlike prior approaches that are purely statistical in nature, Harbinger’s approach is informed by its insights into specific biological events that take place early in the development of cancer.

“After three years of research and development within Flagship Labs, we have created a platform that harnesses these insights to enable high-resolution, blood-based assays.

“With Harbinger Health, we have the potential to intervene in the cancer continuum far earlier than ever before, thus increasing the opportunities to save more lives.”

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