OncoMark raises €2.1m to get breast cancer tool to market

15 Feb 2017

From left: Dawn Walsh, Kernel Capital; Des O’Leary, CEO of OncoMark; Prof William Gallagher, co-founder of OncoMark; Deirdre Glenn, Enterprise Ireland; and Kevin Healy, Bank of Ireland. Image: Nick Bradshaw/Fotonic

A new breast cancer diagnostic test is nearing the market after OncoMark, a UCD-based start-up, successfully raised €2.1m.

OncoMark’s plans to release its innovative breast cancer diagnostic test in 2018 have been bolstered by the company’s latest investment round.

The company secured €2.1m through the likes of Kernel Capital, Irrus Investments, Enterprise Ireland, HBAN MedTech and private investors.

OncoMark develops panels of cancer biomarkers that can help medical professionals to decide on treatments, as well as tailor patient management.

The investment will fund the commercialisation of OncoMasTR, a prognostic test for early-stage breast cancer that the company claims will help to reduce the number of breast cancer patients receiving unnecessary chemotherapy.

This unnecessary treatment, according to OncoMark CEO Des O’Leary, is a real problem. Approximately 70pc of breast cancer patients don’t need it after initial surgery, though honing in on those particular patients remains a big issue.

“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,” said O’Leary.

“This exposes individuals to severe side effects and results in significant costs to healthcare systems worldwide.

“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.”

With 14 employees currently on the books, the company, with a headquarters at NovaUCD, is eyeing a significant increase in that regard.

OncoMark was previously awarded €2.7m through Horizon 2020 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.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic