Cancer diagnostic specialist Grail today filed for an initial public offering (IPO) on the Nasdaq, with the stock to trade under the ticker symbol GRAL. The start-up has raised almost $2 billion in seed money in four rounds of private investing since 2016. In its 2019 round of funding, Grail's valuation was estimated at $3.2 billion. Some of the company's notable backers include Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, and Bill Gates, the second richest.

Grail was spun out of gene-sequencing giant Illumina (ILMN -0.17%) four years ago. In its S-1 filing, the company wrote, "Using our platform technology, we have developed a multi-cancer early detection blood test that has demonstrated in clinical studies the ability to detect more than 50 types of cancer, across all stages, and localize the cancer signal with a high degree of accuracy, from a single blood draw." 

The letters IPO sitting on stacks of coins.

Image source: Getty Images.

Grail is doing some massive clinical trials to prove its test is effective at detecting cancer, enrolling 165,000 volunteers in three large-scale studies. The company hopes to launch a multi-cancer early detection test, Galleri, in 2021. 

Grail is competing with a $10 billion company, Guardant Health (GH 1.31%), and private company Thrive, a start-up that came out of Johns Hopkins. While Guardant Health has an approved liquid biopsy that will profile the genes of cancer patients, no company has approval yet from the Food and Drug Administration to sell a blood test to determine if people have cancer.