Company wins £985k cash boost to fund cervical cancer diagnostic tool

Money will speed up development of system aimed at providing 'real time' cervical screening results

The company behind a new cervical cancer diagnostics tool has scooped £985,000 in investment funding to further develop the technology.

Zilico, which is a spin-off from the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, has received a £750,000 cash injection from The North West Fund for Biomedical, managed by SPARK Impact; and a further £235,000 from new and existing investors, including Fusion IP.

The cash will enable further development of the system, which will have two applications to provide ‘real time’ results for women undergoing traditional Pap smear or LBC tests as part of the cervical cancer screening programme. If successful, it could see immediate diagnoses being made available, rather than women having to wait up to several weeks to find out if cancer cells have been detected.

The system consists of a portable hand-held device, a single-use disposable sleeve and docking station and is safe and painless.

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women under 35 and we feel this technology really has the potential to become a successful diagnostic tool for this cruel disease

Using electrical impedance spectroscopy technology, it can measure the resistivity of cells and so detect changes as cells progress from normal to precancerous and then to cancerous.

The first application of the device is positioned within the referral population and could help to reduce the number of biopsies taken. The second application, which is under development, will be positioned as a screening device and will help to reduce the subjectivity and time taken with current tests.

The referral application completed a pivotal European trial of 400 women in 2011 across three hospitals in the UK and Ireland. The company has since been disseminating these results at key scientific meetings across the world.

Chief executive of Zilico, Sameer Kothari, said: “It is the strength of the Zilico proposition including the recent pivotal trial data that has enabled us to secure this significant investment.

“I am particularly pleased to bring on board SPARK Impact as an experienced healthcare investor.”

Zilico will use the investment to complete the manufacture of commercial devices and to establish its route to market for EU and other territories.

Dr Penny Attridge, senior investment director at SPARK Impact and manager of The North West Fund for Biomedical, said: “Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women under 35 and we feel this technology really has the potential to become a successful diagnostic tool for this cruel disease.”

Companies