£4m investment secured for Edinburgh Molecular Imaging

A University spin-out company has attracted a £4 million investment from leading life science venture capital fund Epidarex Capital.

Edinburgh Molecular Imaging (EMI) is developing pioneering imaging technology to help diagnose and monitor major diseases.  The company was founded in 2011 by Prof Chris Haslett (Centre for Inflmmataion Research), and two members of Edinburgh Infectious Diseases, Dr Kev Dhaliwal (Centre for Inflammation Research) and Prof Mark Bradley (School of Chemistry).

L to R:  Chris Haslett, Kev Dhaliwal, Mark Bradley

Fast and accurate diagnosis

The aim is to address the problem of late diagnosis, which has a major impact on a patient’s chances of survival. The technology is designed to detect changes that occur in the initial stages of a disease, giving doctors a fast and accurate diagnosis.

In the case of lung cancer, more than 41,000 people are diagnosed each year in the UK. Late diagnosis is considered a key contributing factor to the poor survival rates of this disease.

Dr Kev Dhailwhal one of the three founders of EMI said:

As respiratory clinicians, we are faced with diagnostic uncertainty on a daily basis and we have few means in our current practice to rapidly and accurately diagnose, monitor and treat many pulmonary conditions. Over the past 5 years, we have been developing know-how and expertise in optical molecular imaging at the University of Edinburgh to overcome these hurdles. The investment by Epidarex Capital in Edinburgh Molecular Imaging heralds an important landmark in the journey of taking our concepts and research from the bench to the bedside and ultimately to improve patient care.

EMI's highly innovative OMI technology revolves around the development of fluorescent imaging reagents that detect harmful processes deep inside the human body, at the bedside, in real time and at molecular resolution.  The company's initial focus is on lung conditions but the technology is applicable to a wide spectrum of disease.

The company's approach has the potential to transform clinicians' ability to diagnose and manage a number of serious respiratory conditions, including fibrosis, lung infections, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and lung cancer.  EMI's technology will address the pressing need for tests which can rapidly provide diagnostic certainty and reduce healthcare costs.  Respiratory diseases kill one in five people in the UK and cost the NHS over £6 billion per year, with lung cancer being the biggest cancer killer.

Liz Roper, a partner at Epidarex Capital commented that:

We believe this technology has the potential to facilitate major changes in the diagnostic medical imaging market, particularly for diseases with low survival rates and where current diagnostic tools are failing to improve patient outcomes. We are looking forward to working closely with the EMI team to take this product into the global healthcare market.

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