Arizona Healthcare Financial Management Association (AZHFMA)

VisionGate raises $20M to target early stage lung cancer

VisionGate Inc. has raised $20 million, including an investment from Trinnovate Ventures, a subsidiary of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona.

The money will be used to accelerate clinical trial programs for VisionGate's LuCED non-invasive diagnostic test targeting early stage lung cancer and Iloprost, a chemoprevention drug for patients who have pre-cancerous condition of the lungs called dysplasia.

As part of this collaboration, Trinnovate Ventures was the lead investor for VisionGate's $20 million funding round.

Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema, who visited VisionGate's Phoenix headquarters on May 9, said Arizona is lucky to be home to such an innovative company. She introduced the Fostering Innovation Act to ensure costly regulations don't stand in the way of success for companies like VisionGate. She also is working to expand the definition of accredited investor so that individuals with expertise related to a particular business are able to invest and help them grow.

VisionGate employs 34 people at its Phoenix and Seattle operations.

Plans call for growing to upwards of 50 employees by the end of the year or first quarter of next year, said Scarlett Spring, president and chief commercial officer of VisionGate.

She said the average annual salary of VisionGate employees is more than $70,000.

This time last year, Alan Nelson, founder and CEO of VisionGate, was named a National Academy of Inventors 2015 Fellow. With 139 patents under his belt, Nelson developed the Cell-CT, the first technology with the ability to view cells in their 3D state, allowing for earlier disease detection.

While he developed the test to detect lung cancer in its earliest stages, he said the test also would be useful for other cancers.

He said he eventually plans to take the company public and employ upwards of 200.

Angela Gonzales, Senior Reporter, Phoenix Business Journal.  Angela covers health, biotech and education.