Belfast’s GenoMe raises £300,000 for its ovarian cancer test

25 May 2021

GenoMe team and investors. Image: GenoMe

The medtech start-up said its blood test for early detection of ovarian cancer could ‘potentially dramatically increase patient survival’.

GenoMe Diagnostics, a Belfast medtech start-up, has raised £300,000 in a seed round for its ovarian cancer diagnostics test.

The start-up, which spun out from Queen’s University Belfast in 2020, is developing a novel blood test for the earlier diagnosis of ovarian cancer.

The round of funding comes from QUBIS, the arm of Queen’s that is responsible for investing in university spin-outs and helping them commercialise. It also includes investment from Deepbridge Capital and Co-Fund NI, a government-backed fund for investing in Northern Irish start-ups.

GenoMe has its roots at the Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research at Queen’s University and is based on research by Dr Paul Mullan, Dr James Beirne and Dr Laura Feeney. The team was joined by Dr Shannon Beattie, who is chief operating officer.

“Our work benefits women who are at risk of developing ovarian cancer, or who present with possible symptoms. Early diagnosis can ultimately save lives, as well as reduce cost pressures for healthcare providers,” Beattie said.

“We also aim to benefit clinical trial providers and drug developers, by developing accurate and cost-effective companion diagnostics, to better stratify patients and increase their chance of response to novel therapies.”

Mullan said that ovarian cancer is often detected in the later stages and earlier diagnosis – especially by catching tumours when they are small and less likely to be resistant to chemotherapy – could “potentially dramatically increase patient survival”.

GenoMe is the latest university spin-out that QUBIS has invested in this year, building on research conducted at the university that has the potential for commercialisation. Earlier this month, it backed VascVersa, which is developing a treatment for damaged blood vessels, and FjordStrong, which is building underwater surveying systems.

“GenoME Diagnostics builds on 10 years of research at Queen’s and the team has made great progress on their commercialisation journey,” Anne Dornan, enterprise network manager at QUIBIS, said.

“GenoME has the potential to improve outcomes for women at risk of developing ovarian cancer across the globe. QUBIS, along with the other funders involved, look forward to supporting the company through its early-stage development, and wish the team every success for the future.”

The start-up won the all-Ireland Best New Start Company at the InterTradeIreland Seedcorn competition in 2020.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin