Sense Biodetection raises £12.3m to progress instrument-free molecular diagnostics


29-10-2019
Mike Anstey of Cambridge Innovation Capital

Sense Biodetection Limited (Sense) developers of simple, ultra-rapid, handheld tests for flu and other infectious diseases has raised £12.3M, in a funding round led by Cambridge Innovation Capital, with participation from Jonathan Milner.

Sense Biodetection Limited (Sense) has today announced that it has raised £12.3m to develop its portfolio of instrument-free, point-of-care molecular diagnostic tests, a pioneering new class of diagnostic product.

The company has raised £10.5m Series A investment co-led by Cambridge Innovation Capital (CIC) and Earlybird, with participation from Jonathan Milner and seed round investor Mercia Asset Management.

Concurrent with the investment, Sense has also secured a grant of £1.8m from Innovate UK.

The company plans to invest the new funds in the development and manufacture of a range of tests utilising its novel and proprietary rapid molecular amplification technology, targeting in the first instance infectious disease applications such as influenza (flu).

Instrument-free molecular diagnostics represent the ultimate flexible test format as the tests could be deployed in any setting and by a wide range of potential users. This could be transformational for the diagnostic industry.

True Point-of-Care™ products provide a single-use product format, allowing diagnostic tests to be readily adopted by new users and scaled to meet demand.    

Sense’s vision is to enable truly decentralised healthcare

The company’s products will allow rapid tests for viral and bacterial pathogens, such as those causing respiratory infections or sexually transmitted diseases, to be performed within minutes in doctors’ offices, pharmacies or community facilities, ensuring more timely treatment and management of infections.

Sense CEO Harry Lamble commented: “We are delighted to secure the funding necessary to conduct the formal development of our first products.

"With the support of an exceptional new investment syndicate, Sense is positioned to become first-in-class and best-in-class in the exciting field of instrument-free molecular diagnostics and to realise our vision to transform healthcare through decentralisation.”

Unmet market need

Mike Anstey of CIC (pictured) commented: “We’re delighted to co-lead Sense’s Series A financing, enabling this ambitious company to develop its pipeline of transformational products.

"CIC’s investment strategy is to build high-growth companies with differentiated, innovative technology within the Cambridge ecosystem, and Sense is a great example of this.”

Rainer Christine from the Health Team at Earlybird commented: “We believe that Sense has created a disruptive solution for true point-of-care molecular diagnostics that will bring machine-free lab-quality results within minutes, and thus health benefits to an unprecedented number of patients.

"At Earlybird, we continue to be impressed by the founding team's commitment to its overall vision and are very excited to be working together to ultimately improve patient outcomes.”

The future

The field of molecular diagnostics is currently dominated by machine-based tests. The systems and procedures necessary to operate and maintain this equipment presents barriers to their adoption at the point of care.  

In contrast, Sense’s instrument-free products could bring the performance of laboratory machine tests into virtually any setting. 

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