Point-of-care technology for STI diagnosis funded £16.9m

Atlas Genetics, a UK diagnostic company developing ultra-rapid point-of-care tests for infectious diseases, has raised £16.9m from a syndicate of new and existing investors.

According to Atlas, the £16.9m investment, which will be drawn down over three years, will be used to accelerate the global launch of the Velox point-of-care products for Chlamydia and gonorrhoea. It will also be used for the development of other infectious-disease tests and expand the immunoassay capability of the Velox system.

Velox is said to be a highly novel molecular diagnostic system for the ultra-rapid diagnosis of a range of infectious diseases using either nucleic acid or immuno assays and is based on a patent-protected electrochemical sensor.

It is claimed that the Velox system will make it possible, for the first time, to carry out infectious-disease tests in primary-care clinics and GP surgeries that are as accurate as those carried out in hospital laboratories.

The new investors in this series-B financing are Novartis Venture Funds, LSP (Life Sciences Partners), BB Biotech Ventures and Johnson and Johnson Development.

Florent Gros, managing director, Novartis Venture Funds, said: ‘We have searched long and hard for novel molecular diagnostic technologies and the Velox platform is a very ingenious solution to the key issues that have hindered the development of ultra-rapid and highly sensitive point-of-care molecular diagnostic instrumentation.

‘Combined with the ability to make immunoassay tests, this makes for a diversified all-in-one diagnostic platform that will be commercialised around the end of 2012.’

The newly announced financing follows a £1.5m round in February 2011 supported by Consort Medical and other investors.