Mercia EIS Funds

Biotech firm awarded £880k to develop digital cancer test

A Manchester business which has developed a digital screening platform that enables the rapid diagnosis of cancer has been awarded an £880,000 NHS development contract to bring the technology to market.

Chromition, a University of Manchester spin-out which is backed by Mercia Fund Managers and its EIS Funds, has developed light-emitting particles known as Luminspheres™ which can be attached to biomarkers that bind to cancer cells and give off light to indicate the presence of cancer. Tissue samples can be screened using existing equipment and the use of pattern recognition software helps speed up the process, rather than relying solely on inspection by clinicians. As different coloured Luminspheres™ can be attached to different biomarkers, multiple cancer screens can be done all at once, saving time, money and potentially lives.

The funding will allow Chromition to validate the platform for detecting endometrial cancer, although the company is already working to extend its use to detect other cancers including lymphoma and follicular cancer. It hopes to have the technology in use in hospitals by 2021.

The funding has come from SBRI Healthcare, an NHS England initiative to support technological innovations that tackle unmet needs within the NHS. The latest development contract is in addition to the £100,000 Chromition was awarded last year when it was named as one of the winners of the SBRI Healthcare national competition.

Chromition was founded in 2014 by Prof Mike Turner, the Professor of Materials Chemistry at Manchester University, and Dr Mark McCairn and is based on over a decade’s research. Its platform technology is being developed into a range of other applications including security, decorative, horticulture and lighting. Mercia Technologies first backed the company in 2016 and to date has invested almost £500,000 from its EIS funds.

Mark McCairn, Chromition’s CEO, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded a development contract from NHS England to bring our Digital Multiplex Histopathology Screening Platform to market. The Digital Platform will transform the way histopathology is conducted within the NHS and globally by enabling personalised, rapid and quantitative diagnosis of cancer at reduced cost.”

Bill Yost, Investment Manager with Mercia, said: “Chromition could transform the way biopsies are carried out, and allow tests for different types of cancer to be carried out at the same time without the need for new and costly equipment. Its innovative technology allows faster and cheaper screening which will increase the likelihood of early detection and provide better results for patients and the NHS.”

For more about Mercia’s EIS Funds please view our EIS Funds information here.