Sense Biodetection raises £12.3m to progress its DIY flu test

The developer of a DIY flu test has raised £12.3m to help it pioneer a new class of diagnostic products.

Sense Biodetection has raised £10.5m in Series A investment co-led by Cambridge Innovation Capital (CIC) and Earlybird, with participation from Cambridge angel investor and Abcam founder Jonathan Milner, and seed round investor Mercia Asset Management. Concurrent with the investment, Sense has also secured a grant of £1.8m from Innovate UK.

The company plans to invest the new funds in the development and manufacture of a range of tests utilising its novel and proprietary rapid molecular amplification technology, targeting in the first instance infectious disease applications such as influenza (flu).

According to the Sense, about six per cent of GP appointments are for respiratory infections.  The Sense test could be done at home without the need to visit the GP and spread infection.

Sense, based in Cambridge and Oxford, says its vision is to enable truly decentralised healthcare. The company’s products will allow rapid tests for viral and bacterial pathogens, such as those causing respiratory infections or sexually transmitted diseases, to be performed within minutes in doctors’ offices, pharmacies or community facilities, ensuring more timely treatment and management of infections.

The field of molecular diagnostics is currently dominated by machine-based tests, the systems and procedures necessary to operate and maintain machines present barriers to their adoption at the point of care.  In contrast, Sense’s instrument-free products could bring the performance of laboratory machine tests into virtually any setting.

“We are delighted to secure the funding necessary to conduct the formal development of our first products,” said Sense CEO Harry Lamble.

“With the support of an exceptional new investment syndicate, Sense is positioned to become first-in-class and best-in-class in the exciting field of instrument-free molecular diagnostics and to realise our vision to transform healthcare through decentralisation.”

CIC's Mike Anstey

Instrument-free molecular diagnostics represent the ultimate flexible test format as the tests could be deployed in any setting and by a wide range of potential users. This could be transformational for the diagnostic industry, delivering for the first time, true point-of-care testing in a market-successful, single-use product format, allowing diagnostic tests to be readily adopted by new users and scaled to meet demand.

Mike Anstey of CIC commented: “We’re delighted to co-lead Sense’s Series A financing, enabling this ambitious company to develop its pipeline of transformational products. CIC’s investment strategy is to build high-growth companies with differentiated, innovative technology within the Cambridge ecosystem, and Sense is a great example of this.”

– Dr Anstey will be one of the judges at the East of England Investment Catalyst pitching day, taking place on Thursday, October 31 at the Bradfield Centre, Cambridge, which will see some of the region’s most exciting tech firms pitching for a place in the programme’s grand final, in London on November 26.

It is free to attend, and you can sign up here.