Medical invention firm raises €1.5m Series A funding

22 Jun 2011

Crescent Diagnostics, a Limerick-based medical technology company that tests for osteoporosis by testing a small toenail clipping, has raised investment of €1.5m.

Crescent Diagnostics Ltd, a developer of novel tests for predicting osteoporotic fracture risk, today announced it has raised €1.5m in Series A funding to support the development of BQT, a predictive test for the disease.

Crescent’s novel test, developed at the University of Limerick, will enable physicians to diagnose the risk of osteoporosis-related fracture both quickly and easily, using a small nail clipping.

The funding round was a syndicated deal between AIB Seed Capital Fund co-managed by Enterprise Equity Venture Capital, Bank of Ireland Seed Fund managed by Kernel Capital, and existing venture investor Seroba BioVentures. The funds will be used to run additional clinical trials and to advance BQT to regulatory approval in both the US and EU.

Crescent’s BQT analyser uses Raman spectroscopy to examine the chemical bonds in the toenail.

Crescent’s research has shown that the structure and quantity of the chemical bonds in the human toenail is indicative of future hip fracture risk and is independent of bone mineral density (BMD), the standard test today.

When BQT test development is complete, a physician will be able to send a nail clipping to a laboratory for analysis, with results made available to the patient within a matter of days.

Setting a new standard

More than 300,000 people in Ireland have osteoporosis and one in two women over 50 are at risk of a fragility fracture, which can cost up to €12,600 to treat.

The current gold standard screening method, Dual X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA), is costly and time consuming for patients, and only assesses BMD, which is just one of many risk factors contributing to bone fractures. Many patients with acceptable DXA values still suffer fractures and more accurate tests for fracture risk are therefore required.

“There is a massive unmet need for more convenient, accurate and affordable bone-fracture testing,” Ernie Poku, CEO of Crescent Diagnostics Ltd, explained.

“The BQT test is a novel solution with the potential to significantly enhance osteoporosis diagnosis by measuring completely different risk factors to tests like DXA. This funding will allow us to complete additional clinical trials and bring BQT to market.”

Photo, from left: Orla Rimmington, operations director, Kernel Capital; Ernest Poku, CEO, Crescent Diagnostics; Eric Reed, partner, Enterprise Equity; and Dr Alan O’Connell, partner, Seroba Kernel

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years