August 8, 2019 @ 10:37 by Steven Hugill
A biotechnology firm has secured a £3.5 million investment to improve cancer diagnosis, saying it has the potential to save billions of lives and the global healthcare industry millions of pounds.
Biosignatures has developed a machine learning system capable of analysing blood tests to detect illnesses at an earlier stage.
Bosses at the Newcastle-based business say that presently doctors have only two blood tests they can use to assess a patient’s cancer risk.
However, by using their £3.5 million investment they say Biosignatures, which has a laboratory in Sunderland, will be able to analyse hundreds of thousands of samples from biobanks over several years, starting in the UK, with the aim of developing 20 novel diagnostic screening tests.
If successful, they say all 20 tests could be performed on one blood sample and will be targeted at cancers and dementias, adding the market for the tests starts at those aged 50 and above.
The company has been supported by patient venture investment engine Accelerated Digital Ventures (ADV).
To bring the solution to mass market, Biosignatures is looking to engage strategically with the global healthcare ecosystem and is looking for backing from UK stakeholders.
Its first product is a blood test for prostate cancer discovered with the NHS, which bosses say performed four times better than current clinical practice in its first independently blinded validation trial.
They added it has a potential directly accessible market of a million tests a year and holds great promise for wider application as a screen for the disease.
Dave Bramwell, Biosignatures chief technology officer, said: “We have spent many years optimising and perfecting the large, high quality data set production capability needed for the successful application of our advanced artificial intelligence (AI) discovery systems.
“This work gives us confidence that the biosignatures we discover will translate and validate in the clinic.
“Further, the modified proteins we measure have been implicated over recent years as critical in many disease processes from cancer to dementia.
“These two key elements combine into a unique capability which places us at the forefront of the production of new clinically relevant early diagnostics – identified as a critical need for healthcare systems worldwide.”
Will Dracup, chief executive, said: “It is safe to say that if we can deliver on this vision – as we believe we can – it will be transformative for healthcare delivery worldwide.
“Vast amounts of money can be saved if an effective set of screening tests can be developed.
“We will literally be saving billions by saving millions.”
Mike Dimelow, ADV co-founder, added: “We’ve now invested more than £25 million into health and wellbeing start-ups and have looked at hundreds more.
“Biosignatures is completely unique and has the potential to make a giant leap in diagnostic blood testing.
“This team is disrupting a trillion dollar industry and so competing with billion dollar companies.
“To truly fulfil this vision the team need the backing of the ecosystem and significant funding.
“We’ll do everything we can to back their ambition and we’re so excited to be involved.”