Early cancer detection technology secures £2.4M funding boost

EFFORTS to improve the early detection of cancer have received a significant boost with a £2.4 million funding deal to support the further development of innovative testing technology.

Glasgow-based ClinSpec Diagnostics Limited (ClinSpec Dx), a spinout from the Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry at the University of Strathclyde, has developed a way of detecting cancer at an early stage using a simple blood test. Since the company was established in 2016, studies on the brain, prostate, and pancreatic cancers have highlighted the technology’s potential as a multi-cancer early detection test.

This latest investment allows ClinSpec Dx to progress its multi-cancer development program, including the completion of its second brain cancer trial, and the development of a multi-cancer algorithm covering the most common cancers.

Led by CEO Mark Hegarty, the mission-driven business also plans to hire a further five employees to strengthen the scientific and operations teams, taking its total headcount to fourteen.

Fast, inexpensive, and easy to undertake, the ClinSpec Dx blood test uses revolutionary technology, based on the world-leading research of Dr Matthew Baker at the University of Strathclyde. Through a combination of infra-red light and artificial intelligence, its ‘drop, dry, detect’ technology provides results in minutes.

Earlier diagnosis of cancer results in significantly higher survival rates compared to late-stage diagnosis, increasing the availability of treatment options and improving chances of recovery and a better quality of life. The blood test also has the potential to indicate the type and severity of the tumour, allowing doctors and clinicians to prioritise and fast-track the most appropriate and effective treatments.

The funding round was led by Mercia’s EIS Funds with Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise, profit with purpose investor SIS Ventures, EoS Advisory and the University of Strathclyde.

ClinSpec Dx has raised £4 million to date, including a first round of seed funding in 2019 led by EoS Advisory alongside Mercia’s EIS Funds and the Scottish Investment Bank’s Co-Investment Fund, as well as grant funding from the Higgs EDGE Special Award, and from Innovate UK through the precision medicine accelerator fund.

ClinSpec DX remains open for a further £1 million to accelerate development, build value and prepare the groundwork for Series A funding.

Mark Hegarty, CEO, ClinSpec Dx said: “Worldwide, 26,000 people die from cancer each day. Early detection is critical for effective treatment, but many cancers go undetected for too long. This funding is another significant step forward for ClinSpec Dx in our mission to detect cancer earlier and help to increase patient survival and quality of life.”

Kerry Sharp, Director, Scottish Investment Bank, said: “Having backed ClinSpec Dx since being alerted to the potential of its pioneering diagnostic technology through its involvement in Scottish Enterprise’s High-Growth Spinout Programme, we’re encouraging continued growth at the company by trebling our initial investment.

“ClinSpec Dx is a textbook example of the type of company SIB was established to support; it’s innovative, ambitious, has its sights set on international expansion and, crucially, is developing a platform product that could prove vital in saving lives.”

Rob Halliday, Fund Manager, SIS Ventures said: “ClinSpec Dx has developed a hugely exciting, impactful and disruptive technology which has the potential to meaningfully impact the lives of millions around the world. SIS Ventures is proud to welcome ClinSpec Dx to our outstanding portfolio of Scottish mission-led businesses and we look forward to supporting the next phase of growth and impact creation.”

Dr Olga Kozlova, Director of Innovation and Industry Engagement, the University of Strathclyde, said: “2019/20 saw the University invest more in spin-out and strategic partner companies than ever before.  The University is delighted to have begun 2020/21 with participation in this ClinSpec Dx funding round, and is confident that the round will enable significant progress towards ClinSpec Dx’s aims. ClinSpec Dx is one of the brightest stars among the many growth companies hosted by the University in the Glasgow City Innovation District, and the University will continue to collaborate closely with Clinspec Dx in the coming years.”

Expressing thanks to the shareholders, Prof Steve Howell, Clinspec Dx Chairman said, “We have had tremendous support from all our shareholders, those that have followed us from the beginning and new ones in this round. On behalf of the team at Clinspec Dx, I would like to thank them for their continued support.”

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