A Belfast-based spinout from the prestigious Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research at Queen’s University Belfast, GenoME Diagnostics has raised £1.4 million in a pre-Series A round funding round.
The pre-Series A capital will help the company further develop its OvaME product, which improves on the status quo of CA125 blood tests that have been shown to provide less than accurate ovarian cancer test results, by measuring levels of patented DNA methylation markers in a blood sample, incorporating the high sensitivity of droplet digital PCR. Additionally, the startup plans to file for EU regulatory approval and expand its regulatory approach to the UK and North America.
The round was supported by QUBIS, the commercialisation arm of Queen’s University, Co-Fund NI (managed by Clarendon Fund Managers), and Deepbridge Capital and includes an additional £500,000 InnovateUK Biomedical Catalyst grant for a project in collaboration with QUB.
According to the American Cancer Institute, ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women, accounting for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. A woman's risk of getting ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about 1 in 78. Her lifetime chance of dying from ovarian cancer is about 1 in 108.
“Currently, a large proportion of ovarian cancer cases are caught at the later stages of the disease, so patients, unfortunately, have a very poor survival rate. Cancers detected at an earlier stage provide much more opportunity for intervention and improve patient survival,” says GenoME Diagnostics CEO Dr. Shannon Beattie.
She continues, “Milestones like these will be pivotal in opening conversations with public health bodies and allowing the team to progress our tests further to market. Our ultimate long-term ambition is to eventually enter public screening programmes, however, our first market is disease monitoring and diagnosis.”
Beyond ovarian cancer, the startup says that its novel diagnostic pipeline can be utilised for biomarker in discovery in a wide range of disease and applications, such as companion diagnostics for patient selection and stratification, disease monitoring, or early diagnosis in other disease areas.
Lead image: Prof Paul Mullan (co-founder and CSO), Chris Mosedale (CBO), Dr Shannon Beattie (CEO), Stuart Gaffikin (Clarendon Fund Managers), Dr Laura Feeney (co-founder), Dr Mark Street-Docherty (Exec Chair) and Anne Dornan (QUBIS)