Cambridge-based Sense Biodetection raises €14 million to develop its point-of-care diagnostic tests

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Cambridge-based Sense Biodetection (or Sense) has raised €14 million to develop its portfolio of instrument-free, point-of-care molecular diagnostic tests, a pioneering new class of diagnostic product.

The company raised €10 million in Series A investment, co-led by Cambridge Innovation Capital (CIC) and Earlybird, with participation from Jonathan Milner and seed round investor Mercia Asset Management. Along with the investment, Sense has also secured a grant of €2 million from Innovate UK.

The company plans to invest the new funds in the development and manufacture of a range of tests utilising its novel, rapid molecular amplification technology, targeting in the first instance infectious disease applications such as influenza (flu).

Instrument-free molecular diagnostics allow tests to be deployed in any setting, and by a wide range of potential users. This could be transformational for the diagnostic industry, delivering for the first time, true point-of-care testing in a market-successful, single-use product format, allowing diagnostic tests to be readily adopted by new users and scaled to meet demand.

“We are delighted to secure the funding necessary to conduct the formal development of our first products,” said Sense CEO Harry Lamble. “With the support of an exceptional new investment syndicate, Sense is positioned to become first-in-class and best-in-class in the exciting field of instrument-free molecular diagnostics and to realise our vision to transform healthcare through decentralisation.”

Sense’s vision is to enable decentralised healthcare. The company’s products will allow rapid tests for viral and bacterial pathogens, such as those causing respiratory infections or sexually transmitted diseases, to be performed within minutes in doctors’ offices, pharmacies or community facilities, ensuring more timely treatment and management of infections.

The field of molecular diagnostics is currently dominated by machine-based tests, despite the recent launch of near-patient instruments licensed for use outside of a central laboratory. The systems and procedures necessary to operate and maintain machines present barriers to their adoption at the point of care.  In contrast, Sense’s instrument-free products could bring the performance of laboratory machine tests into virtually any setting.

“We’re delighted to co-lead Sense’s Series A financing, enabling this ambitious company to develop its pipeline of transformational products,” said Mike Anstey of CIC. “CIC’s investment strategy is to build high-growth companies with differentiated, innovative technology within the Cambridge ecosystem, and Sense is a great example of this.”

“We believe that Sense has created a disruptive solution for true point-of-care molecular diagnostics that will bring machine-free lab-quality results within minutes, and thus health benefits to an unprecedented number of patients,” said Rainer Christine from the Health Team at Earlybird. “At Earlybird, we continue to be impressed by the founding team’s commitment to its overall vision and are very excited to be working together to ultimately improve patient outcomes.”

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