The first cancer test based on a unique serum biobank that took samples from over 202,00 women over 10 years is set to launch following a £5.25 million fundraising round by Abcodia, the company with exclusive rights to the biobank.
The ROCA test will also be the first product to come out of Abcodia who is calling it the world’s most sensitive and specific ovarian cancer screening test.
Chief Executive of the Cambridge business, Dr Julie Barnes, said the funding would allow Abcodia to launch its ROCA test in the UK this summer and US markets later in 2015.
“This is the first cancer screening test that we are bringing to market and we are excited about its proven high performance,” said Barnes. “We feel passionately that the ROCA test will make a real difference in the lives of women at risk of developing this aggressive form of cancer. The funding will help build operations and commercial teams in the UK and establish our US presence while continuing to grow our product pipeline focused on improving early cancer diagnosis.”
The financing was co-led by Cambridge Innovation Capital (CIC) and Scottish Equity Partners (SEP), who join existing investors Albion Ventures and UCL Business. Dr Robert Tansley, from CIC and Jan Rutherford, from SEP have been appointed to Abcodia’s Board.
Dr Robert Tansley, Investment Director at CIC, said: “The major unmet need in early detection of ovarian cancer and the unprecedented clinical validation behind the ROCA test provided a compelling body of evidence for CIC’s investment. We are excited to support this groundbreaking test and bring it to the market so women around the world can feel empowered with more knowledge and more options.”
The ROCA test’s proven performance was reaffirmed in a study from the United Kingdom Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening(UKCTOCS) trial at UCL, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology this month. The publication showed the ROCA test could detect ovarian cancer more accurately than existing methods and before symptoms occur.
Between 2001 and 2005 over 202,600 women volunteers were enrolled into the UKCTOCS. Volunteers donated a serum sample on trial entry and 50,000 women have continued to donate serum annually for up to 10 years. Abcodia has the exclusive commercial rights to this biobank. The serum is collected to a rigorous protocol and is stored in liquid nitrogen at a commercial biobanking facility. In addition to the samples, each volunteer has also provided information about demographics, lifestyle, and disease history and morphology.
Jan Rutherford, partner at SEP, said: “Abcodia is one of the most exciting businesses involved in the early detection of cancer. Its novel data driven approach, underpinned by its unique biobank and its strategic partnership with Cancer Research UK, has the potential to materially enhance the way biomarkers are developed, allowing earlier disease diagnosis and improved patient outcomes.
“We are delighted to invest in such an innovative company and look forward to the launch of the ROCA test, initially through a number of private clinics in the UK this summer.”