£985,000 investment in cervical cancer diagnostics device

Wednesday 20th June 2012

A pioneering company which has developed a technology to speed up and improve cervical cancer diagnosis has received £985,000 in investment funding.

Zilico Limited has received a £750,000 investment from The North West Fund for Biomedical, managed by SPARK Impact and a further £235,000 from new and existing investors, including Fusion IP plc.

The North West Fund for Biomedical is a sub-fund of the £185m evergreen North West Fund that is jointly financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the European Investment Bank.

Zilico Limited, which was originally spun out from the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, will be headquartered in Manchester.

Cervical cancer affects around 500,000 women worldwide each year and is responsible for 300,000 deaths. Under current screening practices in the UK, a woman will have a Pap smear or LBC test every three or five years. If the test is positive, she will be referred to a colposcopy clinic for a detailed cervical examination.
Zilico is developing a new system with two applications to provide ‘real time’ results for women undergoing both these types of test, removing several weeks of waiting for a diagnosis.

The system consists of a portable hand-held device, a single use disposable sleeve and docking station. This system is safe, painless, and accurate.

The technology used, called electrical impedance spectroscopy, can measure the resistivity of cells and so detects changes as cells progress from normal to precancerous and then to cancerous.

The first application of the device is positioned within the referral population, and could help in reducing the number of biopsies taken. The second application, which is under development, will be positioned as a screening device and will help to reduce the subjectivity and time-taken with current tests.

The referral application completed a pivotal European trial of 400 women in 2011 across three hospitals in the UK and Ireland. The company has been disseminating these results at key scientific meetings across the world.

Chief executive of Zilico, which was formed in 2006, Sameer Kothari, said: “It is the strength of the Zilico proposition including the recent pivotal trial data that has enabled us to secure this significant investment. I am particularly pleased to bring on board SPARK Impact as an experienced healthcare investor.”

Zilico will use the investment to complete the manufacture of commercial devices and to establish its route to market for EU and other territories.

Dr Penny Attridge, senior investment director at SPARK Impact and manager of The North West Fund for Biomedical, said: “Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women under 35 and we feel this technology really has the ï¿¼potential to become a successful diagnostic tool for this cruel disease.”

Zilico Limited is the 18th investment for The North West Fund for Biomedical to date.