Early cancer-detection tech secures £2.4m funding boost

TECH to improve the early detection of cancer has received a significant boost with a funding deal to support further development.

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

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

ClinSpec Diagnostics team
Doctors David Palmer, Holly Butler, Matthew Baker and Mark Hegarty

Led by CEO Mark Hegarty, the business plans to hire five more employees to strengthen the scientific and operations teams, taking its total headcount to 14.

Fast, inexpensive and simple, the ClinSpec Dx blood test uses technology based on the research of Dr Matthew Baker at the University of Strathclyde. Through a combination of infra-red light and artificial intelligence, its “drop, dry, detect” system provides results in minutes.

Early diagnosis means significantly higher survival rates, increasing the availability of treatment options and improving chances of recovery and 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 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 £4m 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 Innovate UK through the precision medicine accelerator fund.

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

ClinSpec Dx CEO Mark Hegarty said the funding was “a significant step forward”.

Scottish Investment Bank director Kerry Sharp said ClinSpec Dx offered “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,” he said.