• Wednesday, December 06, 2023
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54Gene’s $45m funding couldn’t prevent biotech startup collapse

Despite $45m funding, Nigerian biotech startup 54Gene folds after 4 years

…seeks buyers to take over assets

54Gene, a genomics startup co-founded by Abasi Ene-Obong, has initiated the folding up of its operations after securing $45 million in funding.

The company initiated the process in July 2023, according to Business Insider.

Its website has become inaccessible, and the public relations agency, which represented the company for a significant part of its existence disassociated itself from 54Gene.

Established in 2019, 54Gene was co-founded by Abasi Ene-Obong who played a key role in securing $45 million for the company through three funding rounds.

Nearly a year after he resigned as the CEO of 54Gene, Ene-Obong launched a new biotechnology company focused on genetic analysis and precision medicine.

Read also: Top biotech firm, Illumina fined $475m for illegal cancer-screening deal

The company’s mission was to supply essential genomic data specific to African populations, aiming to enhance the drug discovery procedures of international pharmaceutical firms, TechCabal reported.

With less than 3 percent of genetic material used in global pharmaceutical research sourced from Africa, 54Gene aspired to bridge this significant gap in the global genomics market.

However, in under four years since its inception, the company fell into disarray, leading to the replacement of Ene-Obong, the CEO. In the last year, 54Gene has witnessed three changes in its CEO position, with Ron Chiarello taking on the role in March 2023 but departing from the position in July.

“Unfortunately, the company could not continue to operate financially, and it began to wind down in July,” Chiarello stated. This marks the first official confirmation regarding the closure of 54Gene from anyone affiliated with the company.

As part of its shutdown, 54Gene is actively seeking buyers to take over its assets, including a biobank containing invaluable biological samples for research. Although these assets are considered valuable by company insiders, the progress of the sale process remains uncertain and complicated by unresolved legal issues and unpaid creditors.