Micrima secures £900k investment boost for new breast cancer screening technology
Micrima, the Bristol-based company developing a safe, low-cost system to improve the detection of breast cancer, has secured a further £900k of investment following the success of clinical trials.
The company, originally a spin-out from the University of Bristol, has secured fresh funding from a syndicate of experienced business angels alongside further investment from existing investors YFM Equity Partners and Swarraton Partners.
It is developing a breast imaging system – developed from a landmine detection project – that captures, in just eight seconds, high-resolution, 3D images through the use of harmless radio waves.
The safe, low-cost system enables women of all ages to be screened for breast cancer in GP surgeries, or alternative high street locations, with results that are now comparable with traditional X-ray mammograms.
The new investment will fund further improvements of the MARIA (Multistatic Array processing for Radiowave Image Acquisition) system’s performance and collect a critical mass of validating clinical data at Bristol’s Southmead Hospital.
This work will then allow the company move into full product development and distribution.
Micrima executive chairman Roy Johnson said: “Much of the make-or-break technical risk has been addressed, although with this new finance we plan to improve performance even more in some very specific areas.
“The challenge is now all about building an increasingly valid and impressive clinical data base that will convince the radiology community for each application we choose to target.”
Nick Simmonds of YFM Equity Partners said: “We are very impressed with the level of clinical performance already demonstrated by the system and look forward to working with Roy Johnson and our new co-investors to take the company forward.”
Meanwhile, Stephen Brooke of Swarraton Partners added: “We are delighted to continue to support Micrima on the back of the excellent clinical results achieved to date.”
The MARIA imaging system is not only safer and cheaper than current breast screening methods, it should also provide more reliable results in younger women who are overlooked for screening at present, with the additional benefit of being more comfortable for women undergoing the test.
The MARIA technique uses an innovative radar system developed from land mine detection by a team atBristolUniversityled by Professor Ian Craddock, Professor of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and Professor Alan Preece, Emeritus Professor of Medical Physics. The project is founded on Professor Ralph Benjamin’s pioneering work on microwave focusing.
The latest clinical trial, completed in 2011, showed a diagnostic success rate of around 80% and already represents a strong competitor to X-ray mammography in dense tissue. The team are aiming for a success rate of over 90%.
Breast cancer is the most common cause of death in women between the ages of 35 and 55 inEurope, and the leading cause of death in many countries. Early diagnosis dramatically improves survival rates, yet most tumours are not discovered early enough – particularly in younger women.