OncoMark, a University College Dublin (UCD) spin-out company, today announced that is has secured €2.1 million in funding. The funding round included; Kernel Capital, through the Bank of Ireland Kernel Capital Venture Funds, the Irrus Investments syndicate, the Galway HBAN MedTech syndicate, private investors and Enterprise Ireland.
OncoMark is focused on the development of novel panels of cancer biomarkers, to aid treatment decisions and allow more tailored patient management, ultimately improving the quality of life for cancer patients.
This investment round will fund the commercialisation of OncoMark’s lead product, OncoMasTR, which it plans to launch in 2018. OncoMasTR is a novel prognostic test for early-stage breast cancer that will reduce the number of breast cancer patients receiving unnecessary chemotherapy.
OncoMark was previously awarded €2.7 million, through the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Phase 2, to clinically validate the OncoMasTR test. This new funding round will allow the translation of the test from clinical validation to regulatory approval and full commercialisation.
OncoMark, which was co-founded by Professor William Gallagher and Steve Penney as a spin-out from UCD’s School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, is headquartered at NovaUCD, the Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs.
Des O’Leary, Chief Executive Officer, OncoMark said, “In the absence of accurate tests, the majority of early-stage breast cancer patients are treated with chemotherapy despite many not benefiting from the treatment. This exposes individuals to severe side effects and results in significant costs to healthcare systems worldwide. Approximately 70% of patients do not require chemotherapy after initial surgery, but it has been difficult to identify these individuals. The OncoMasTR test is designed to enable a more personalised approach to patient care, helping clinicians to determine which patients should not receive chemotherapy, ultimately improving their quality of life.”
He added, “We are delighted to announce the successful achievement of our fundraising targets which will, in addition to the Horizon 2020 funding, allow us to complete the commercialisation of the OncoMasTR test, with product launch scheduled for mid-2018.”
He concluded, “OncoMark currently has 14 employees, a significant increase prior to the OncoMasTR project, and I expect our staff numbers to increase further in the years ahead.”
Orla Rimmington, Partner, Kernel Capital, said, “OncoMark aims to prevent early stage breast cancer patients’ exposure to ineffective treatment and needless toxicity. Kernel Capital are delighted to have led this investment in OncoMark, with its genomic assessment test, based on pioneering research led by Professor William Gallagher.”
Dr Tom Kelly, Head of Division, Industrial, Lifesciences and Consumer, Enterprise Ireland said, “The thriving Irish medtech sector continues its story of success and the development of innovative products such as OncoMasTR contributes significantly to Ireland’s reputation as a leading global cluster for medical technologies. Companies like OncoMark are the future of the Irish economy. They have used Ireland’s extensive innovation ecosystem and worked with the Enterprise Ireland commercialisation team to bring the fruits of academic enquiry to market and profitably. We will continue to support companies like OncoMark in delivering medical solutions that impact positively on the lives of cancer patients worldwide.”
The OncoMasTR test is based on a panel of genetic ‘drivers’ of breast cancer. The original research that resulted in the identification of the panel was led by Professor Adrian Bracken, Smurfit Institute of Genetics, Trinity College Dublin and researchers at the UCD Conway Institute, led by Professor William Gallagher. The OncoMasTR technology was subsequently exclusively licenced by both universities to OncoMark.
Donal Duffy, Director Bank of Ireland Corporate Banking said, “Bank of Ireland is delighted to support the ambitious and important work of OncoMark with the commercialisation of this new diagnostic breakthrough for breast cancer. At Bank of Ireland we have worked closely with the team involved to provide the best possible banking solution for their requirements and we are delighted to play a part in their success. Support for the start-up community is a key priority for Bank of Ireland and we look forward to working with the team over the coming years.”