Micrima, the Bristol University spin-out company behind a new breast screening technology that uses an innovative radar system to improve the early detection of breast cancer, has secured £2m of investment.
The £2m has been raised from a syndicate of co-investors led by YFM (Yorkshire Fund Managers) Group and Swarraton Partners. Existing investor NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology & the Arts) also participated in the funding round.
Breast cancer is the most common cause of death for women aged between 35 and 59 in the EU. For various reasons, the under-50s are not routinely screened. Micrima’s technology has the potential to offer several advantages over existing primary screening technology.
The funding will be used to continue technical development and further clinical trials on Micrima’s breast imaging system MARIA (Multistatic Array processing for Radiowave Image Acquisition), which captures high-resolution, 3D images through the use of harmless radio waves.
The technique uses an innovative radar system developed from land mine detection by a team at Bristol University led by Dr Ian Craddock, Reader in Electrical & Electronic Engineering. The project is founded on Prof Ralph Benjamin’s pioneering work on microwave focusing.
MARIA aims to be more comfortable and effective than existing X-ray mammography screening, which requires breast compression, creating artificially denser tissue making the detection of small tumours more challenging.
Initial blind trials with volunteers have shown MARIA to compare very well with current X-ray technology, correctly identifying all participants with anomalies and ’clearing’ all healthy volunteers.
The implications of the technology are far-reaching, particularly as the compact size and cost of the MARIA system should make it ideal for use in locations such as GP surgeries, diagnostic centres and mobile screening units.
‘The new 3D breast screening platform under development aims to be safer, more convenient, and more economically viable in a greater number of countries, in addition to providing a practical solution to screening women below the age of 50. We are very pleased that, following our successful pilot clinical study, we have been able to attract this new funding from such a valued and committed group of investors,’ said Roy Johnson, executive chairman of Micrima.
‘We are looking forward to generating data from the larger clinical trial that is now required to further prove the technology and its inherent benefits.’