16-07-2012: Start-up financers High-Tech Gründerfonds and the investment company of Life Science Inkubator are investing together with the TTHU (Technology Transfer Heinrich Heine University GmbH) and a private investor in the development of molecular diagnostic cancer tests. Epivios GmbH, a spin-off of the Heinrich Heine University of Düsseldorf is receiving seed financing that will secure the further development of its platform technology.
The five-member founding team works on innovative processes that make the early discovery and exact diagnosis of cancer possible. This means that patients can be directed towards appropriate treatment early on and so avoid unnecessary therapies. “We are delighted about the successfully concluded financing round and the perspective it opens up for developing modern and practical diagnostics for patients”, says Managing Director Nicole Groth. “With this capital investment, we can expand both our laboratory and our team”. The new developments are based on a recent epigenetic procedure that can show changes in DNA methylation patterns. “These changes are an early indicator of a developing cancer, and give specific information about the stage of tumour development”, explains Dr Simeon Santourlidis, co-founder of Epivios, about this innovative technology.
The epigenetic platform technology includes a new kind of standardisation tool that allows the comparison of samples with differing genetic constitution for the first time. Furthermore, Epivios´s new procedure also analyzes sequences, which spread across the entire genome, amount to several tens of thousands. This raises the sensitivity by a multiple, in comparison with any comparable procedure that employs isolated template sequences. Further, in contrast to previous methods, it is now possible to use smaller differences in DNA methylation for earlier diagnosis of tumours, which greatly increases the spectrum of applications for this tool. Acute clinical questions regarding bladder and prostate cancer, which were defined in collaboration with a network of leading clinical experts, are being addressed by the first two test systems.
Through the investment by High-Tech Gründerfonds, the investment company of Life Science Inkubator, Technologietransfer Heinrich Heine Universität GmbH (TTHU), and a private investor, the start-up is now in a position to develop the first two assays and execute preliminary clinical validation studies.
The investors seem pleased about the conclusion of the participation agreement: “With future developments by Epivios, a new approach to analysis will greatly increase the validity of cancer-relevant diagnostics. The platform-based nature of the procedure yields an attractive market potential, also with regard to further indications”, explains Ron Winker, Investment Manager at High Tech Gründerfonds.