Valar Labs Announces $22 Million Series A to Advance Vesta, First AI Diagnostic Test to Predict Treatment Response in Bladder Cancer, and Catalyze Expansion in Other Cancers

–Funding was co-led by DCVC and Andreessen Horowitz (a16z)–

PALO ALTO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Valar Labs, the developer of computational histology AI (CHAI) tests for predicting response to cancer therapies, announced a $22 million Series A financing. The funding follows Valar Labs’ completion of a recent international, multi-institution validation study and subsequent launch of Vesta, the first AI-based diagnostic test to predict response to first line treatment in bladder cancer. The Series A financing round was led by leading venture capital firms DCVC and Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) Bio + Health with participation from Pear VC. Vineeta Agarwala, MD, PhD, General Partner at a16z Bio + Health, and James Hardiman, General Partner at DCVC, will be joining the Board of Directors.


“We see Valar as a leader in an emerging group of TechMed startups that harness AI and the power of data to augment physicians’ capabilities,” said James Hardiman, general partner at DCVC. “Histology has always been one of the keys to diagnosing cancer, but Valar Labs is showing that there are unexpected depths in the digital slides pathologists review every day. And bladder cancer is only the beginning; we can’t wait to see where they take the technology next.”

Valar Labs was founded to reduce uncertainty in cancer treatment decisions. “Every day, oncologists are faced with challenging decisions for millions of cancer patients to determine which treatment pathway is most likely to be effective for a given patient. At Valar Labs, our aim is to provide every oncologist and cancer patient around the world with diagnostics that can help inform these critical decisions,” said the founders in a blog post. They added, “Over the last couple of years, we have been able to demonstrate that quantitative AI analysis of H&E stained tumor histology slides can prognosticate outcomes and predict response to treatment. We have assembled a cohort of 1000+ patients with bladder cancer across 4 continents, and published our analysis showing that the Vesta assay can identify patients who would have more aggressive disease progression under standard of care treatment regimens, and who could benefit from other earlier interventions. Vesta is the first-ever, AI-based oncology test to be clinically offered in this disease and we are incredibly excited about the impact it could have for patients and providers. We have also demonstrated that Valar’s approach generalizes to several other tumor types (such as pancreatic cancer) through multiple publications and data that we have been fortunate to present alongside our collaborators at national oncology conferences over the past few years.”

The Vesta validation study of CHAI biomarkers was recently announced by the company and presented at the American Urological Association (AUA) 2024 Annual Meeting. The study demonstrated the biomarkers’ ability to outperform commonly used clinical parameters and demonstrated significant predictive ability across all relevant patient demographics.

“The introduction of Vesta is a paradigm shift for how we can best serve our bladder cancer patients. Its ability to predict response to BCG treatment is invaluable particularly amidst the current nationwide BCG shortage. This ensures every patient receives personalized and highly effective treatment,” said Dr. Jay Shah, a urologist at Stanford Healthcare.

Since their announcement of a $4 million seed financing led by a16z in 2022, Valar Labs has published over a dozen peer reviewed publications and abstracts demonstrating that the technology they have developed can be used to accurately predict patient outcomes on several therapeutic regimens, across several major cancer types. Valar diagnostic tests could thus inform precision selection of treatments for a broad range of cancer patients.

“Valar Labs could transform how we approach cancer treatment decisions for a large number of patients today,” said Vineeta Agarwala, MD, PhD, general partner at a16z Bio + Health. “By combining readily available tissue histology images with AI-driven insights, Valar is enabling physicians to deliver the precision oncology care that every patient deserves: matching the right treatment, to the right patient, at the right time.”

About Valar Labs:

Valar Labs is a precision medicine company developing computational histology AI tests for predicting response to cancer therapies. Our goal is to provide every patient and physician the ability to select the best treatment based on the patient’s tumor biology. Our bladder cancer test, Vesta, predicts which patients are unlikely to benefit from BCG therapy and provides detailed risk stratification for recurrence and progression. Vesta is clinically available through our CLIA-certified laboratory in Houston, Texas and can be ordered online. For more information, please visit www.valarlabs.com and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

About DCVC:

DCVC is deep tech venture capital. Over more than a dozen years, the firm has backed brilliant entrepreneurs using computational approaches to solve trillion-dollar problems in the real world across a broad set of industries, especially those that haven’t seen material progress in decades. With billions of dollars of assets under management, DCVC builds long-term relationships with the founders it backs. The firm has been with many of its companies from their very start — and through to their recognition by the public markets as category-defining businesses. For more information, please visit www.dcvc.com, or follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter @DCVC.

About Andreessen Horowitz:

Andreessen Horowitz (aka a16z) is a venture capital firm that backs bold entrepreneurs building the future through technology. We are stage agnostic. We invest in seed to venture to growth-stage technology companies, across AI, bio + healthcare, consumer, crypto, enterprise, fintech, games, infrastructure, and companies building toward American dynamism. a16z has $56B in assets under management across multiple funds.

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