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ELECTRONICS | Electronic test, measurement & monitoring
clearlabs.com

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Founded Year

2014

Stage

Series C | Alive

Total Raised

$135.55M

Last Raised

$60M | 2 mos ago

About Clear Labs

Clear Labs is a food analytics platform for retailers and manufacturers. The company joins molecular diagnostics with data science to help food companies protect their brands and ensure standards of food quality. The platform enables customers to determine the objective quality and safety of their products, assess and reduce risks of contamination and recalls, and eliminate blind spots throughout their supply chains.

Clear Labs Headquarter Location

1559 Industrial Rd Suite 2

San Carlos, California, 94070,

United States

650-843-5591

Latest Clear Labs News

Clear Labs Develops SARS-CoV-2 Variant Monitoring Engine Using Rapid Sequencing Workflow

Jul 2, 2021

Premium Save for later NEW YORK – With a rapid, automated solution that incorporates Oxford Nanopore sequencing for diagnostics and surveillance, Clear Labs is growing its footprint in both applied and clinical markets. The San Carlos, California-based firm garnered $60 million in Series C financing last month, and last week the firm presented its SARS-CoV-2 next-generation sequencing system at the World Microbe Forum, presenting initial data on surveillance for clinical and wastewater samples. Initially focused on food testing and applied markets, Clear Labs had always planned to expand into other domains as well, CEO and founder Sasan Amini said in an interview following his presentation. Clear Labs manufactures a system called ClearSafety for the applied space. Motivated by the coronavirus pandemic, however, and with $18 million in strategic funding, the firm developed its first clinical application and obtained Emergency Use Authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration last year for a SARS-CoV-2 test and diagnostic system called ClearDx. The EUA SARS-CoV-2 test on the ClearDx system enables labs to run both EUA diagnostic tests and genomic surveillance assays simultaneously. Clear Labs is currently the only manufacturer of a fully automated, fully integrated platform for DNA sequencing that uses robotics and cloud-based analytics, according to Amini. "The key value that we deliver to our customers is accelerated outcomes with improved accuracy" compared to standard sequencing workflows, he said. Specifically, the Clear Labs system performs automated library preparation, followed by an automated Oxford Nanopore GridIon whole-genome sequencing workflow, and then delivers reports to users through cloud-based software. The process requires about 30 minutes of hands-on time, Amini said, with a total turnaround time of less than 24 hours. In his World Microbe Forum presentation, Amini noted that Clear Labs has had one new customer per week since launching ClearDx in September. Publicly disclosed end users include the Nevada Public Health Laboratory, which used the system to detect the first local occurrence of the SARS-CoV-2 alpha variant, formerly knowns as B.1.1.7, in January. And the Medical University of Nebraska used ClearDx for early detection of viral variants in the state, for example finding the first local cases of the iota variant. The Wyoming Department of Health was also an early adopter of ClearDx, and has been using the system for surveillance since January. The lab used the Clear Labs instrumentation to detect the first case of the delta variant in the state, with a total time from sampling to testing to NGS of six days, and this week the state passed the 10,000 mark for sequencing viral genomes, sequencing more than 16 percent of all positive cases in Wyoming. "Wyoming is now ranked number one in the US for the percentage of SARS-CoV-2 positive samples that they sequence," Amini said, adding that he believes this is due in part to the ease of use of the Clear Labs system. Indeed, Amini asserted that the US states with the fastest times from positive sample to depositing results in GISAID are Clear Lab users. "For example, in Nebraska the mean time to sample to deposit into GISAID is only five days," he said. The average turnaround time for samples sent to the US Centers f Current use cases, future plans Typically, whole-genome sequencing requires users to run batches of samples in order to bring the cost to process each sample down. The workflow also typically requires intensive hands-on time and expertise to perform correctly. "What Clear Labs really does is to make batch sizes so practical that people can start processing samples in real time, and that really unleashes the power of genome sequencing technology," Amini said. Clear Labs recently developed a prototype "near real time" variant monitoring engine for its system, which Amini presented to the microbiologists in attendance at WMF. The engine flags genomes of variants of concern in all the cloud-connected instruments, which he said can be used to determine local prevalence as well as for what he called predictive monitoring. As an example, Clear Labs used retrospective data to show that the variant monitoring engine could have flagged the alpha variant as a variant of concern when it was present at a prevalence of approximately 6 percent, a result achieved simply by pulling forward the overall sequencing timeline. Instead, by the time the alpha variant had been sequenced and linked a rise in cases, it already represented half of the cases in the UK, Amini said. At WMF, Amini also presented pilot wastewater-based epidemiology data using ClearDx WGS. The pilot WBE study examined 12 wastewater samples and detected as few as 5 copies of virus per milliliter of sample. Amini said in the presentation that high viral load in samples also enabled variant lineage detection. Surveilling for variants may become trickier in the future if infection after vaccination results in no symptoms, and the WBE approach has an advantage of detecting viral sequence shed by asymptomatic people, Amini noted. Although Clear Labs is pivoting to emphasize the surveillance capabilities of its system, it will maintain its position in applied testing as well, Amini said. Interestingly, he noted that some of the constraints inherent to sequencing can be even more impactful in applied markets, so entering the molecular testing market through the food space served as a crucible of sorts. Like the rest of the microbiology lab universe, food testing has a shortage of highly trained technicians. "Many of the food operators don't necessarily have degrees in molecular biology, or biochemistry, or genetics, so the solution needs to be very easy and fully automated for them." Furthermore, "Food applications are more time-sensitive, because food is perishable, and they are more price sensitive because food is a low-margin business," Amini said. For this space, Amini said another important component is physical redundancy of hardware in the instrument, so that if one of the units fails there is a backup. Oxford Nanopore was a better fit for these reasons compared to other options "because it was faster, had cheaper options for lower throughput sequencing cases that we are interested in, it provided the physical redundancy needed, and it could be fully automated," Amini said. The system currently uses Oxford Nanopore GridIon sequencing under a distribution agreement signed in 2019. And, "We work closely with them to make sure that our end customers have the best customers experience," Amini said. He suggested that Clear Labs' application is complimentary to Oxford's core strategies, since other users, as well as Oxford itself, tend to emphasize the system's point-of-care applications for research and clinical use. "They created a system that is portable and takes advantage of long-reads, but what we tried to do is take advantage of the time to results and cost benefits for low-throughput applications," he said. That said, Amini began his career as a molecular biologist and researcher at Illumina, and suggested that the goals of Clear Labs go beyond any single platform. "The cost of sequencing has dropped faster than Moore's Law predicted, and I anticipate sequencing will continue to create new and emerging markets," Amini said. "It is definitely the time to start making it so simple, reproducible, cost effective, and rapid, so anyone can walk up to a system, spend a few minutes to load it, and get the results back the same day," he added. Currently, the firm markets Salmonella and Listeria surveillance assays to the applied space. Amini noted that Salmonella has more than 2,400 serotypes, not all of which impact human health, so strain information can be quite useful. And, information about Listeria pathogen sequences can help in surveillance, since a chronic, or resident Listeria infection with the same strain suggests mitigation efforts are failing, while detection of a new strain would indicate the pathogen has just arrived in raw materials or on an employee. One food manufacturer that is a Clear Labs customer, for example, had a resident Listeria infection in its plant it was unable to squash over many years, Amini said. Using PCR-based testing, the manufacturer had assumed it had one source for its problem, but, "The moment they went live with our system, they saw that they were actually dealing with five independent Listeria strains," Amini said, implying five different sources of contamination. "For food companies, the descriptive layer added to the diagnostic can become very powerful," Amini noted. That said, Clear Labs also strives to deliver sequencing data in a way that is actionable, with clear insights, such as "which variant am I dealing with, or have I seen this same pathogen in the past," he said. The firm now plans to dedicate its Series C funding to broaden the availability of its existing test menu but also introduce new tests, Amini said. These will include lab tests as well as additional analytics aimed at the needs of current customers, a group that now includes public health laboratories with installed instruments. In terms of SARS-CoV-2, because vaccination is now helping contain the number of positive cases, a higher percentage of them could now be sequenced, to better surveil viral evolution and get advanced warning on any variants that might escape vaccines, Amini said. "We have spent billions of dollars on vaccinating the US to hopefully reopen the economy — we just cannot afford to go back," he said.

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Expert Collections containing Clear Labs

Expert Collections are analyst-curated lists that highlight the companies you need to know in the most important technology spaces.

Clear Labs is included in 6 Expert Collections, including CPG & Retail Innovation.

C

CPG & Retail Innovation

255 items

AI, proximity marketing, product discovery, and more for CPG brands.

A

Agriculture Technology (AgTech)

1,633 items

Companies that are using technology to make farms more efficient.

S

Smart Money VCs (2017-2019)

6,297 items

We crunched the data to identify the 24 VC firms with the best combination of portfolio valuations and investment outcomes.

S

Supply Chain & Logistics Tech

2,865 items

Companies offering technology-driven solutions that serve the supply chain & logistics space (e.g. shipping, inventory mgmt, last mile, trucking).

G

Grocery Retail Tech

300 items

Startups providing B2B solutions to grocery businesses to improve their store and omni-channel performance. Includes customer analytics platforms, in-store robots, predictive inventory management systems, online enablement for grocers and consumables retailers, and more.

E

Enterprise SaaS

2,452 items

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) – internet based software offered as a subscription – continues to become the de facto standard for software distribution and consumption. Enterprise SaaS continues to show particular promise, emerging as one of the most well-funded categories. Startu

Clear Labs Patents

Clear Labs has filed 9 patents.

The 3 most popular patent topics include:

  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular biology
  • Food safety
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3/21/2018

4/2/2019

Molecular biology, Genetics, Biotechnology, DNA, DNA sequencing

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Molecular biology, Genetics, Biotechnology, DNA, DNA sequencing

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