Cork-based biotechnology company Metabolomic Diagnostics has secured a further $2m (€1.6m) in funding to complete the development of its life-saving screening test for pregnant mothers which it hopes to launch next year.
The company was set up to commercialise pre-eclampsia screening technology developed by professor Louise Kenny at Cork UCC.
Affecting almost 7.5 million pregnancies per year, pre-eclampsia is the single greatest cause of premature births and is still responsible for the deaths of more than 75,000 mothers and half a million babies each year.
The Little Island-based company’s PrePsia blood test will be able to detect the risk of pre-eclampsia early in the pregnancy, and it is hoped, ultimately save the lives of women and their babies through personalised medical interventions.
Metabolomic Diagnostics chief executive Charles Garvey heralded the funding round as a significant milestone in the company’s development which would allow it to finalise the commercialisation of its screening test.
“Securing this new funding will allow Metabolomic Diagnostics to complete the development of PrePsia with a view to bringing the product to market in 2017,” Mr Garvey said.
The funding round has been supported by existing investors including Cork-headquartered venture capital firm SOSV - formerly SOSventures - which was founded in 1993 by entrepreneur Sean O’Sullivan.
The AIB Seed Capital Fund Enterprise Ireland as well as a number of private investors also backed Metabolomic Diagnostics again in the latest funding round.
The same three main backers were involved in the company’s first two funding rounds. Last February, it rose a second round of €750,000 which doubled its initial investment.
The biotech company also announced that the country’s leading diagnostics entrepreneur, Jim Walsh has joined its board.
Dr Walsh serves as executive director of Trinity Biotech and has made a number of significant investments in diagnostics and medical device companies over the years.
“In the modern world, there is no excuse for having a medical complication that can result in the deaths of otherwise healthy mothers and their unborn babies.
"The technology being developed by Metabolomic Diagnostics is of enormous global significance and represents a substantial market opportunity to help combat pre-eclampsia,” Dr Walsh said.
Ms Kenny had been researching the condition in UCC four years prior to the company being established in 2011.
Mr Garvey recognised the global potential in the early detection test she was developing.
In the US alone, $7bn (€6.29m) is spent annually on prenatal care associated with pre-eclampsia.
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