Glasgow-based diagnostics spin-out Microplate Dx has closed a £2.5m seed funding round.
Combining novel hardware with proprietary data processing algorithms, the compay has developed a platform for rapid antibiotic susceptibility testing, enabling the optimum antibiotic to be prescribed by a clinician in minutes, rather than days.Investors include existing backers Deepbridge Capital and the University of Strathclyde, along with new investors Scottish Enterprise, SIS Ventures and Thairm Bio.
Microplate Dx’s platform will initially be used to tackle urinary tract infections (UTIs), with the company having already completed several successful clinical studies. A urine sample is added to a cartridge which is then inserted into the device, with results expected within an hour. UTIs are among one of the most common bacterial infections, with research estimating there are at least 92 million people worldwide experiencing UTIs annually. In the UK alone, UTIs were responsible for 13.7% of all antibiotics prescribed in community practice in the NHS.
With the product currently at prototype stage, new funding will allow Microplate Dx to continue its clinical trials during the next couple of years, with a view to launching commercially across European pharmacies and exploring entry into the US market.
While UTIs are the initial focus for the company, its potential as a platform means that in the future, test cartridges will be developed to support the treatment of other key drug-resistant infections – respiratory tract infections, sepsis, meningitis, fungal infections – depending on market needs and opportunities.
Spinning out from the University of Strathclyde in 2022, Microplate Dx was founded by chief executive Stuart Hannah, alongside co-founders chief technology officer Damion Corrigan, chief scientific officer Paul Hoskisson and chair Poonam Malik.
Still based on campus, the firm now employs 12 staff – with plans to increase headcount by 25% over the coming year.
Microplate Dx was one of only 12 start-ups selected to join the AI Accelerator Programme at the Bayes Centre and Edinburgh Innovations at the University of Edinburgh, in conjunction with partners.
Hannah said: “Early clinical benchmark testing relating to urinary tract infections has been positive and the company now intends to target scale-up both commercially and technically.
“Early prescribing of appropriate antibiotics to patients, so-called ‘personalised prescribing’, is vital to combat antimicrobial resistance on a global scale, and for serious infections, early intervention will save countless lives.”
Sir Jim McDonald, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, said: “The university is delighted to make further investments in the company to support their progress with clinical trials and take further steps towards commercialisation.
“They are led by a great team and I am confident they will achieve their targeted success.”
Kerry Sharp, director of entrepreneurship and investment at Scottish Enterprise, added: “Our investment in Microplate Dx typifies our support for early-stage, high-growth companies; having assisted with the development of the platform through our High Growth Spinout Programme and follow-on grant funding, contributing to this round alongside our co-investors will help commercialise the technology and potentially expand its reach into new infectious disease areas of significant clinical need.”