We recently welcomed 11 of the top companies from the current Cancer Tech Accelerator cohort to our first-ever Demo Day. Taking place at the Royal Society of Chemistry, the event brought together the final contenders selected by our partners, Cancer Research UK, Roche, and the Medical Research Council, alongside five Rising Stars who demonstrated exceptional potential. The companies pitched to an audience of investors and researchers over the course of an afternoon.
Organa is developing hyper-realistic organ mimics to train the next generation of surgeons and medical robots. Trainee surgeons have faced a five-fold decrease in their hands-on surgical training hours, while surgical robots require a huge amount of training data to work effectively. Organa believes their high-fidelity tactile organ mimics will play a critical role in training the next generation of surgeons and surgical robots.
Lomond Instruments are developing and prototyping a real-time precision dosimetry solution to address the many challenges within high-dose radiation therapy for prostate cancer. By miniaturising a range of sensors to fit within a catheter, the company plans to address the lack of accurate and reliable real-time solutions for in vivo dosimetry.
MelaKNOWmiR are tackling the problem of accurately diagnosing skin cancers using the mPatch, a point-of-care device to simplify and shorten the diagnostic process. This pain-free and non-invasive microneedle patch makes use of electrochemical detection of cancer-specific RNA biomarkers using bespoke molecular probes. The company aims to prevent 250,000 unnecessary biopsies every year in the UK, saving the NHS £35 million annually on unnecessary diagnostic procedures while saving lives by reducing time to treatment.
Opto Biosystems are revolutionising how we treat neurological disorders with minimally invasive brain-computer interfaces which can be delivered in an outpatient setting. The company’s first product, Opto Innerve, is an injectable wireless microscopic sensor placed on the brain, from which it can sense brain signals and deliver real-time, high-quality information about a patient. Targeting brain cancer as its first use case, the company aims to help clinicians measure treatment response in real time, without the need for MRIs.
(Looking to Raise Q3 2022: £1m)
Turing Biosystems aims to harness the power of hybrid AI by bringing together multiple layers of patient and clinical data. The company’s first target is immuno-oncology, where they have developed a unique clinical trial analysis on immune checkpoint inhibitors drawing on multi-omics and clinical metadata. With an AI platform capable of relating data from different sources, they hope to discover novel insights and recommend personalised interventions unique to the patient.
Elaitra is working on state-of-the-art neural networks to detect breast cancer. Widespread screening is hampered by a shortage of radiologists, which is why the team developed the technology ViewFinder: a GPS for 3D medical images, which improves the quality of breast cancer detection, and relieves the current bottleneck in diagnosis.
Assemblify is working to help clinicians test and identify aggressive cancer tumours, based on an off-the-shelf consumable coupled with sophisticated image analysis. With an initial focus on brain cancer, the company hopes to help patients make better-informed choices around balancing their treatment strategies with quality of life.
(Looking to Raise Q1 2023)
CANSOR is developing new technology that will change how we screen for prostate cancer, one of the leading killers of men in the UK and the United States. By zooming in on cell-free DNA (cfDNA), tiny fragments of DNA which can be found floating in the blood, CANSOR have developed a cost-effective test for early detection.
HiDRA have developed an AI-enhanced, clinically relevant platform to de-risk the drug discovery process for cancers. Problems with the current discovery process include poor representation of patient cancers, the challenges of modelling drug combinations, and the difficulty of making patient-relevant models high-throughput. Using high-content microscopy and AI image analysis, the HiDRA platform allows clinicians to rapidly refine drug candidates moving in vivo.
Stratisal is developing a diagnostic platform to rapidly assess the functionality of patient tumours, with the goal of helping clinicians improve patient outcomes with rapid tumour testing prior to treatment decisions. The initial focus will be cancer patients with defects in DNA repair, which make up 50-80% of some breast and ovarian cancers. These patients are highly sensitive to treatments that target the DNA repair response, such as platinum-based therapies, signalling a promising avenue for treatment.
Infinitopes combines world-leading expertise in immunology, tumour target discovery, oncology, vaccinology, biomanufacturing and clinical trial design. This has enabled them to build a platform that can detect cancer targets that their competitors cannot see, in order to create high efficiency vaccines capable of 80% protection (where vector control animals all die within three weeks). Their results demonstrate absolute prevention of cancer metastases (responsible for 70-90% of cancer deaths in people).
In related news, applications for the next Cancer Tech Accelerator cohort are now open! If your company is working on the detection, diagnosis, or treatment of cancer, or on another unmet need for cancer patients, we hope you’ll take the time to put in an application. The deadline to apply is the 15th of September.