"Closely-held Xagenic plans to conduct beta studies this year, in advance of a major chlamydia and gonorrhea clinical trial, with its rapid X1 molecular diagnostic testing system in preparation for…
TORONTO (July 9, 2015) — Xagenic, a molecular diagnostics company developing the lab-free Xagenic X1™ platform for point-of-care use, today announced that it has raised $15 million (CAD). Each of the company’s Series B investors has participated in this financing, including Domain Associates, CTI Life Sciences, BDC Capital and the Ontario Capital Growth Corporation.
In June, Xagenic also announced it has acquired exclusive rights to a mutation detection technology with potential applications to liquid biopsy testing. The electrochemical clamp assay technology was developed by University of Toronto Professor and Xagenic Founder (now CTO) Dr. Shana Kelley. Genome Web covered the news in June and July 2015.
“This investment round is a testament to the faith our existing investors have in the power of the Xagenic X1™ platform and the promise of our enzyme-free approach to molecular diagnostics,” said Timothy I. Still, Xagenic’s CEO. “This funding will accelerate our development efforts in bringing our point-of-care diagnostic platform to market.”
Xagenic’s rapid, lab-free, molecular diagnostic system affords a large market opportunity created by a significant, unmet medical need for point-of-care diagnostic solutions. Because of its highly scalable, consumables-driven business model, Xagenic is well-positioned to capitalize on this opportunity with a differentiated product offering and unique menu strategy.
Biotechnology Focus, a compendium of the Canadian life sciences industry, has published a guest column by Dr. Raphael Hofstein, MaRS Innovation’s president & CEO, and Elizabeth Monier-Williams, director of marketing and communications.
The article explores the way research focused on discovery and commercialization are often viewed or positioned as competitors within the funding ecosystem and the need to align their goals:
The time of Canada’s French and English solitudes may be past, as Governor General Michaëlle Jean notably stated when she took office in 2005, but the solitudes of thought concerning how Canada supports basic and commercial research persist.
This thinking is most easily spotted after the government announces a federal budget, triggering a flurry of opinion pieces debating the breakdown for the $2.7 billion Canada spends on research.
Most recently, Jim Balsillie, co-founder of Research in Motion (now BlackBerry Ltd.), wrote for the Globe & Mail about the Canadian need to understand that “geopolitics is at the heart of commercializing ideas,” and create better policies to protect Canadian ideas, including “better
incentives for researchers to spur commercialization,” such as during an academic’s consideration for tenure. Yet, like any business endeavor whose success depends on people, there’s more involved in changing Canada’s approach to commercialization than just policy.
The people must want to change, too.
Xagenic Inc., a molecular diagnostics company developing the first lab-free molecular diagnostic platform with a 20 minute time-to-result, announced October 15, 2014 that its project in partnership with the University of Toronto was successful in securing funding from Genome Canada under the Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP).
The funding, announced by the Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology) and Dr. Pierre Meulien, president and CEO of Genome Canada, is part of 12 selected projects under Genome Canada’s Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP), on October 15 in Wallenstein, Ontario.
The project titled “Development of Low Cost Testing Chip and Device for Hepatitis C Testing” was approved with funding up to a maximum of $5,999,865 over three years. The Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation is supporting the project with a grant matching the Genome Canada contribution.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for us to leverage the viral assay development and electrochemical detection expertise in the labs of Dr. Shana Kelley and Dr. Edward Sargent at the University of Toronto to significantly advance our own research programs on several fronts,” said Dr. Graham D. Jack, Xagenic’s senior director of Research and Development. “Under this joint program, we anticipate development of a new lower-cost substrate chip, which will significantly bring down the total cost of our in-cartridge AuRA™ detection technology.
Timothy I. Still appointed Xagenic’s president and CEO
On October 16, 2014, Xagenic also announced that Timothy I. Still has been appointed president and CEO, and will serve as a member of Xagenic Inc.’s board of directors.
This announcement was covered in PE Hub.
Dr. Shana Kelley, co-founder of Xagenic Inc. and a professor of biochemistry at the University of Toronto, has been named to the Globe and Mail’s Top 12 Canadian Innovators list.
The contest solicited nominations from across Canada that were assessed by a panel of judges. According to the Globe, the contest “recognizes talented Canadians who not only have great ideas, but also turn them into reality.”
Here’s an excerpt:
Another innovator who is taking on the traditional way of doing things is Ms. Kelley, a winner in the Health category. Ms. Kelley, a University of Toronto professor and founder of Xagenic, developed a lab-free molecular diagnostic platform that can test for cancer and infectious diseases in the field, with results that are available in 20 minutes.
It’s a product, says Mr. [Dan] Debow, [senior vice-president of emerging technologies at Salesforce] that is in line with a bigger trend that’s happening in health care: the decentralization and democratization of diagnostics.
TORONTO, July 14, 2014 - Xagenic Inc., a molecular diagnostics company developing the first lab-free molecular diagnostic platform with a 20 minute time-to-result, has announced a second closing of its…
Market research company lauds start-up for developing a breakthrough workflow while dramatically improving point-of-care diagnosis
(MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif) May 20, 2014 — Based on its recent analysis of the point-of-care diagnostics market, Frost & Sullivan recognizes Xagenic Inc. with the 2014 North America Frost & Sullivan Award for New Product Innovation Leadership.
Xagenic’s revolutionary product, the Xagenic X1™ system, is a point-of-care platform with intuitive features to provide lab-free molecular diagnostic testing. It is unique as a low-cost, simple, rapid sample-to-answer desktop instrument, requiring no manual sample processing or cold storage. Currently, the platform is in the beta-testing phase and is expected to launch between 2015 and 2016.
Dr. Shana Kelley and Xagenic were featured in the Globe and Mail on May 20, 2014.
Read the detailed Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Research Report report on Xagenic’s website. Xagenic is MaRS Innovation’s lead start-up company, in partnership with the University of Toronto: Xagenic news archive.
For its portfolio of cartridge-based tests, Xagenic focuses on infectious diseases (HSV 1+2, Flu A+B, CT/NG, strep A, group B strep, trichomoniasis, HCV and upper respiratory infections) that will benefit the most from rapid on-site testing. The company also intends to apply the platform to counter a critical public health threat—antimicrobial resistance.
U of T professor shares tips to her team’s commercialization success
When it comes to bringing research from the lab to the market, the University of Toronto’s Dr. Shana Kelley knows firsthand what it takes. She’s co-founder of Xagenic, a MaRS Innovation and U of T start-up company that’s developed the first lab-free molecular diagnostic platform with a 20-minute time-to-result based on her research with fellow U of T colleague Professor Edward Sargent.
In her guest blog post for the Ministry of Research and Innovation, Kelley outlines what she’s learned through her experience in the commercialization process (emphasis ours):
1. When ready to commercialize, look in your own backyard for investment and support
When the Xagenic technology was mature enough to consider commercialization, we started to call venture investors all over the world to see if we could get them to back the company. We always got the meetings we wanted, and lots of enthusiasm and encouragement, but it was difficult to get people engaged. We were fortunate to get seed funding from a group of local organizations including MaRS Innovation, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, the Innovation Acceleration Fund (IAF), and Ontario Centres of Excellence and then finally found the group that would eventually be our Series A lead investors, CTI Life Sciences Fund.
With CTI, we immediately got the traction we had been looking for from a venture investor that indicated genuine interest in the company. When we later made the rounds for the Series B investment outside of Canada, we repeatedly heard the comment: “we’re glad to see you could do the Series A in your own backyard.”
When I probed about why this was important, I found that the investment community thinks it is important to have your early investors as close geographically as possible. The level of interaction when a company gets off the group needs to be fairly intense — being geographically closer helps entrepreneurs and investors keep in better contact. This is definitely not a hard-and-fast rule, but I found it interesting that many investors had this perception. And it creates a particular challenge for Canadian companies given how little venture capital is available locally!
President and CEO Dr. Raphael Hofstein speaks on healthcare innovation in Toronto
In an October 30 article, Yonge Street Media‘s Andrew Seale spoke with MI’s president and CEO Raphael Hofstein on the booming healthcare innovation coming from Toronto since 2005.
Seale’s article is the first of a two-part series on technological innovation.
In the article, Hofstein credits the city’s intellectual infrastructure and access to healthcare resources for allowing innovation to flourish.
Three of MI’s start-up companies are also mentioned in the article.
Here’s an excerpt (links and emphasis our own):
“The Intellectual Property that is being generated in Toronto (is) a major chunk of the IP that’s being generated across Canada,” he says.
He points to ChipCare Corporation‘s state-of-the-art handheld analyzer, which allows doctors to run multiple diagnostics on a patient’s blood on site as opposed to bringing the patient to the clinic. The University of Toronto developed cell analyzer could prove to be a game changer in the fight against HIV. “Lab-in-a-chip” technology like this is crucial in third world countries where healthcare access is severely limited.
Xagenic’s AuRA platform—another diagnostic tool for blood samples—uses ultra sensitive microelectrode arrays (nano-sensors) developed by another team of researchers at University of Toronto. The inexpensive tech makes it possible for molecular diagnostic testing outside of labs.
MaRS Innovation-backed ApneaDX has developed a clinical-quality sleep-monitoring tool. Previously, diagnosing for sleep apnea—a sleep disorder characterized by abnormal breathing patterns—often required an expensive overnight stay at a sleep clinic. The device is a fraction of the cost and records the data on a chip, which is then analyzed by the company’s software.
This op-ed on Canadian biotechnology and the knowledge economy appeared in The Hill-Times (subscription required), Canada’s politics and government newsweekly, September 9:
Obesity, cancer, heart disease and stroke, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, or the more general stresses of an aging population: no matter which area of concern holds our collective gaze from moment to moment, improving health outcomes and healthcare is the No. 1 challenge for the world’s economy.
Canada has the holistic approach and translational research necessary to address health care’s pervasive challenges, with particular strengths in biotechnology.
In 2007, the Government of Canada made advancing translational research a top priority through the Science and Technology Strategy, with emphasis on cancer, metabolic disorders and, most recently, neurology, as part of the government’s response to the burdensome realities of neurodegenerative disorders.
Scientific research has made significant progress in unraveling the underlying causes of disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, but translating these findings into useful clinical treatments is the key to attaining meaningful accomplishments. Only clinical treatment successes will alleviate pressure on the economy.
Transformational research is the essential first step in this process, but even more importantly, it needs to be put in the hands of those who can translate it into realistic and useful outcomes for patients in particular and society in general.
Thanks to research analytics that capture publications, citations, and other significant metrics, we know Canadian researchers punch above their weight, particularly in medical research. Canada’s challenge is not the quality or quantity of our research ideas but our ability to commercialize those ideas and translate them into market-ready products.
Aware of and concerned by this gap between fundamental basic research and useful patient, social, and economic outcomes, the Canadian government established the Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR) program in 2007. Part of the internationally-recognized Networks of Centres of Excellence suite of programs, the CECR program is a unique collaboration between the three federal granting agencies (the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council), along with Industry Canada, and Health Canada.
Designed to bridge the challenging gap between innovation and commercialization, the CECR program matches clusters of research expertise with the business community to share the knowledge and resources that bring innovations to market faster.
MaRS Innovation was among the first CECRs to be created in 2008, largely based on the founding belief of its members that Toronto is a fertile research land for precisely this kind of translational activity.