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  • New Extraction Device attracts growing Commercial Interest
    left to right: Dr Maiwenn Kersaudy-Kerhoas, Kate Forbes MSP and Dr Antonio Liga
  • Kate Forbes MSP

New Extraction Device attracts growing Commercial Interest

Jun 27 2019 Read 447 Times

A new way of preparing blood samples for use in cancer diagnosis and treatment monitoring is being developed by researchers at Heriot-Watt University with the backing of £574,500 from Scottish Enterprise’s High Growth Spin-out Programme (HGSP).

The Natantis team, which hopes to spin-out into a commercial venture by 2020, has created the CNAsafe device – comprising of a portable base unit and disposable, single-use cartridges - to extract cell-free nucleic acids (cfNA) from whole blood. This type of testing facilitates liquid biopsy extraction and demand is growing for this alternative to more invasive, labour intensive and often impractical tissue biopsies. Main applications to date have been in cancer and prenatal screening, with potential uses in toxicology and transplant monitoring.

The technology has already attracted commercial interest and discussions with a number of potential investors is ongoing. The liquid biopsy market as a whole is worth $2-3 billion and is estimated to grow to $5-6 billion by 2022.

Public Finance Minister Kate Forbes visited the Natantis team at Heriot-Watt’s new GRID (Global Research, Innovation and Discovery) building at the university’s Edinburgh campus, to see the device first-hand. She said: “Scotland has a thriving life sciences community and a long history of world-changing innovation. The Scottish life sciences sector is incredibly innovative, accounting for almost a quarter of Scotland’s Business Enterprise Research and Development spend in 2017. The results of this can be seen in projects like Natantis which, with its CNAsafe device, has designed a truly innovative Scottish product with the potential to have a real impact on the liquid biopsy process.”

Natantis’ Principal Investigator Dr Maiwenn Kersaudy-Kerhoas said: “Scottish Enterprise’s High Growth Spin-out Programme is a fantastic opportunity to bridge the gap between the academic lab and the commercial enterprise. We are getting essential support from both Scottish Enterprise and Heriot-Watt and we’re looking forward to moving to the new GRID building as an incubator for Natantis, just a stone’s throw from Edinburgh Airport, with all the benefits of the campus’ facilities.” “The product has already shown promising commercial interest, proving its very real market and giving Natantis the opportunity to develop into a major contributor to Scotland’s life sciences sector.”

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