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29 July 2014

ProKyma partners with the University of Liverpool to develop pioneering cancer test

"The University of Liverpool has been a hugely supportive partner throughout the whole process."


Damian Bond, chief executive at ProKyma 

ProKyma Technologies Ltd, which received investment from The North West Fund for Biomedical last year, is working with the University of Liverpool to develop a ground-breaking new cancer test.

The project is currently in the research phase but the team is working towards creating a personalised blood test to measure the level of cancer cells in a patient's blood.

If successful, the tests would enable doctors to determine in real time whether a course of treatment is working and whether a cancer has been completely eradicated from the patient's body. It may also allow milder or shorter cancer treatments as the clinician sees how the patient is responding.

The concept and the implications are so disruptive that, prior to receiving investment from The North West Fund, ProKyma had also been backed by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) with almost £500,000 in funding under their Invention for Innovation (i4i) Programme.

ProKyma, which is based at Liverpool Science Park, was founded by Chief Executive Damian Bond in 2006 and joined by Chairman Chris Stanley in 2009.   

Once the research and testing phase is complete, ProKyma plans to recruit an operations team to produce testing kits, as well as sales and marketing staff to promote them to universities and pharmaceutical companies for use as part of their screening process for cancer drug candidates. The company plans to build a manufacturing base in Merseyside within three years.

Chief Executive, Damian Bond said: "The University of Liverpool has been a hugely supportive partner throughout the whole process. They have provided us with access to high quality, state-of-the-art equipment which many start-up businesses would struggle to afford. The level of expertise at the University is also world class, in particular their knowledge and experience in the field of pancreatic cancer.

"Investment from The North West Fund for Biomedical has helped to maintain a commercial focus to this project - all too often these projects can become academic driven and lose sight of critical features of a final product, such as pricing, performance and reproducibility. The team at The Fund are up-to-speed with the value of bioscience breakthroughs and fully
understand what we are hoping to achieve as a company."

Penny Attridge, investment director at SPARK Impact, which manages The North West Fund for Biomedical, said: "ProKyma's pioneering work with the University of Liverpool is paving the way for cancer cell research and could potentially lead to significant changes in cancer detection, evaluation and treatment in the future."   

For more information about how you may be able to access funding for your biomedical business please visit http://www.thenorthwestfund.co.uk/funds/biomedical


About the National Institute for Health Research

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research. The NIHR plays a key role in the Government's strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world. For further information, visit the NIHR website (www.nihr.ac.uk).

About the NIHR Invention for Innovation (i4i) Programme

The NIHR Invention for Innovation (i4i) Programme supports and advances the development of innovative medical technologies or devices that could have a potential impact if applied in a healthcare setting.  i4i funds collaborative research and development between partners from industry, NHS organisations and universities or other Higher Education Institutions.

This is a summary of independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)'s Invention for Innovation (i4i) II-LB-1111-20002. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.


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