FACIT Prospects Oncology Fund invests $375K in Radialis Medical, KA Imaging, DNAstack

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By Ted Liu

Fight Against Cancer Innovation Trust (FACIT) has made first three investments under its new Prospects Oncology Fund for proof-of-concept development of breakthrough cancer technologies. Radialis Medical of Thunder Bay, KA Imaging of Kitchener, and DNAstack of Toronto are the first to receive capital from this new fund, illustrating the strength and breadth of the cancer research network in the province.

Radialis Medical is developing a next-generation, low-dose Positron Emission Mammography (PEM) imaging system to enhance physicians’ ability to detect and treat pre-invasive breast cancer. Unlike earlier systems, Radialis’ PEM technology features solid-state detectors arranged in a large 2-D array that covers the entire breast surface. This enables faster, more sensitive and higher resolution imaging than earlier systems. It is also more comfortable for patients since the breast is immobilized rather than compressed.

Prospects funding from FACIT will support the design and assembly of Radialis’ first clinical imaging system, which will be used for data collection to submit to regulatory agencies prior to marketing approval.

KA Imaging, from the University of Waterloo, is developing a digital panel that improves the quality and accuracy of chest X-rays by creating multi-spectral (sometimes called dual-energy) X-ray images. KA Imaging’s dual-energy chest X-ray panel will use different X-ray energies to highlight different structures, such as bone versus soft tissue, without motion artifacts. This promises better detection and visualization of lung tumours than conventional X-ray imaging, and at much lower radiation doses than CT scans which are known to increase cancer risk. KA Imaging’s chest X-ray panel is designed to retrofit into existing systems, thereby reducing cost and expanding the availability of dual-energy imaging for lung cancer screening.

Prospects funding from FACIT will support the building of a large size prototype and testing on lung models.

DNAstack is a bioinformatics company developing software to enable researchers, clinical labs and pharmaceutical companies to easily self-administrate public and private data sharing networks. This is of particular relevance to the rapidly growing field of genomics as applied to human health research and healthcare. Using current systems, it is extremely difficult to identify and share information with other organizations having relevant patient data. DNAstack’s unique and proprietary software combines federated data discovery with automatable algorithms that operate on data networks while preserving patient privacy.

Prospects funding from FACIT will support commercial development of the software and piloting the system with select customers in the public and private sectors.

“We’re thrilled to partner with these Ontario entrepreneurs and their oncology medical innovations through the Prospects Oncology Fund,” said David O’Neill, Vice-President Business Development of FACIT. “Through access to risk capital, these exciting technologies can now accelerate their path toward commercial validation. Congratulations to all the strong applicants and in particular these awardees in their fight against cancer.”

The Prospects Oncology Fund, designed to advance early-stage Ontario cancer discoveries by supporting the proof-of-concept studies needed to attract seed-stage investment. Managed by FACIT, this is an evergreen fund to which capital is allocated annually.

The Prospects Fund was conceived in recognition of the growing volume of early breakthrough discoveries that require further maturation and proof of concept studies prior to being able to attract investors. To fill this gap, the Prospects Fund aims to provide pre-seed, promising oncology discoveries in Ontario with up to $200K to help the technology reach a funding-ready inflection point. Applications for the Prospects Fund are accepted and awarded bi-annually.

photo credit: FACIT