Queen's University ovarian cancer diagnostic start-up secures £300k seed funding

L-R: Dr Paul Mullan, GenoME Diagnostics; Brian McCaul, QUBIS; Anne Dornan, QUBIS; Stuart Gaffikin, Co Fund NI; r James Beirne, GenoMe Diagnostics; Dr Shannon Beattie, GenoMe Diagnostics.

A QUEEN'S University spin out company specialising in the diagnosis of ovarian cancer, has secured £300,000 in seed funding.

GenoME Diagnostics is developing novel blood tests for the earlier and more accurate diagnosis of ovarian cancer.

The med-tech company emerged out of almost a decade's worth of research by Dr Paul Mullan, Dr James Beirne and Dr Laura Feeney at the Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research (PGJCCR) at Queen's University.

They were joined by Dr Shannon Beattie and in 2019 funding from Innovate UK led to the formation of the company.

GenoME Diagnostics was last year named best new start company in the Intertrade Ireland Seedcorn competition.

The new funding round was supported by QUBIS, the commercialisation arm of Queen's University, Deepbridge Capital and Co-Fund NI.

Dr Shannon Beattie, now chief operating officer of start-up, said: “Our work benefits women who are at risk of developing ovarian cancer, or who present with possible symptoms.

“Early diagnosis can ultimately save lives, as well as reduce cost pressures for healthcare providers.

“We also aim to benefit clinical trial providers and drug developers, by developing accurate and cost-effective companion diagnostics, to better stratify patients and increase their chance of response to novel therapies.”

Co-Founder, Dr Paul Mullan added: “Ovarian cancer is often dubbed ‘the silent killer' due to the non-specific symptoms of this disease and the sub-optimal diagnostic tests. It is often only diagnosed in the later stages of the disease when it has already spread, with around 75 per cent of women diagnosed in the later stages of disease.

“Earlier diagnosis of ovarian cancers could potentially dramatically increase patient survival, by catching tumours when they are small and less likely to have spread, or have developed resistance to chemotherapy.”

Anne Dornan from QUBIS, said: ‘GenoME Diagnostics builds on 10 years of research at Queen's and the team has made great progress on their commercialisation journey. GenoME has the potential to improve outcomes for women at risk of developing ovarian cancer across the globe, QUBIS along with the other funders involved, look forward to supporting the company through its early-stage development, and wish the team every success for the future.

Ben Carter, investment manager at Deepbridge Capital, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the GenoME team develop and commercialise this exciting and important work, via the Deepbridge Life Sciences SEIS.

“GenoME has a remarkable founding team and is supported by excellent science and research, meaning the Company represents exactly the type of innovative Company that the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme is designed to help fund.“

Co-Fund NI is part of Invest NI's Access to Finance portfolio and part funded by European Regional Development Fund under the EU Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme 2014-2020. Clarendon Fund Managers manages Co-Fund NI.

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