MoD Spin-out Receives CA £500K Funding For Technology That Promises Improved Treatment And Earlier Detection of Cancer

ProKyma, a spin-out from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and founded by Ploughshare Innovations, today announced a £482K grant from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) i4i programme.

ProKyma, a spin-out from the Defence Science and Technology laboratory (Dstl) and founded by Ploughshare Innovations, today announced a £482K grant from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) i4i programme. The funding will help it to apply its technology to improve the detection of cancer and monitor changes during treatment.

The investment will allow ProKyma to apply its 'KymaSep' technology, which automates the manipulation of magnetic particles to purify and concentrate very low numbers of Circulating Tumour Cells (CTCs) from a blood sample. The cancer cell, once purified, can be sequenced using tools developed for the human genome
project to find the patient's specific and individual cancer mutation. This information then allows cost effective measurement of CTC numbers, which should decrease during treatment. Oncologists will use this unique tool to adapt and change therapy in real time if the CTC numbers do not decrease.

ProKyma is working with a world-class multi-disciplinary team in Merseyside to deliver the challenging technical breakthroughs needed in this project. A unique cell capture technology has been licenced from CellCap Technologies, which is currently being optimised to harvest millions of stem cells for cellular therapies. Through a long-standing collaboration with the UK Centre for Tissue Engineering at the University of Liverpool, ProKyma will adapt this technology for the very low-number of cell captures needed for CTC detection (5 CTC cells per test-tube of blood). The Liverpool Pancreatic Biomedical Research Unit will then optimise the method for capture, sequencing and enumeration of CTCs. This will then be translated into a device for routine use, which will be tested against samples from the Liverpool Cancer Trials Unit to measure its usefulness on real patient samples.

Damian Bond, chief executive of ProKyma, stated, "The NIHR support has come at a very good time for us and builds on six years of expertise and development. We are excited to collaborate with the teams from CellCap and the University of Liverpool to develop this much needed, but challenging technology."

KymaSep is a small, portable system that is based around an injection moulded device, providing simple operation at low cost - making it ideal for clinic or point-of-care use. It is the result of six years development at ProKyma that started from Dstl's work to develop continuous detection systems for biothreat agents. It has been funded by investment from the Rainbow Seed Fund; Merseyside Special Investment Fund's Liverpool Seed Fund; and the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA).

With the funding and support of NIHR, ProKyma is looking to develop its technology to a point where it can raise a Series A funding round to begin manufacture of the CTC monitoring product in Merseyside by the end of 2014.

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Notes to the editor:

For further information, please contact Damian Bond on 07798 600 833 or e-mail

CellCap Technologies

CellCap is an early stage business developing products to harvest adult stem cells from body tissues for research and cellular therapies. Supported by grants from the Technogy Strategy Board and imvestment from the NWFund Biomedical LP, its lead product is due to start external evaluation in 2013.


The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) is a centre of scientific excellence for the Ministry of Defence (MOD). Its 3,500 strong workforce includes some of the nation's most talented and creative scientists with the brief to ensure that the UK Armed Forces and Government are supported in-house by the very best impartial scientific and technological advice. Dstl's position at the heart of the MOD means that its advice is trusted by overnments academia, industry and international partners. It offers timely and accurate advice at all levels of military planning and operations, both overseas and on the home front.


NESTA is the National Endowment for Science, Technology & the Arts. With endowed funds of over £300 million, our mission is to transform the UK's capacity for innovation. We do this in three main ways: by working to build a more pervasive culture of innovation in this country; by providing innovators with access to early-stage capital; and by driving forward research into innovation, with a view to influencing policy.

The Liverpool Seed Fund

Merseyside Special Investment Fund's (MSIF) Liverpool Seed Fund is a £27m fund which invests in companies with new ideas, innovations and intellectual property. Seed funding can support three stages of development: proof of concept (£50,000 to £100,000) commercialisation (up to £350,000) and first round venture capital (up to £750,000). Liverpool Ventures, a subsidiary of MSIF, was set up specifically to provide pre and post investment support to businesses invested in by the Seed Fund to help give them the best possible chance of success.

About Rainbow Seed Fund:

The £8.5m Rainbow Seed Fund was established in 2001 with funding from the Office of Science and Innovation to commercialise scientific research in a leading group of the UK publicly funded institutions, our partners. The Fund, which is independently
managed by Midven Ltd, made its first investment in 2002, and currently has a portfolio of 16 companies with one exit.

The Fund invests at the earliest stages of a technology's development, and helps to turn an idea into a business by actively identifying and supporting experienced management and facilitating additional coinvestment. Rainbow's partners spend over £1 billion on research and development every year giving the Fund privileged
access to high quality investment propositions at the earliest stage.

ProKyma is a spinout from Dstl. Founded by Ploughshare Innovations in 2006 with initial investment from the Rainbow Seed Fund, it has developed novel approaches in sample handling to enhance diagnostic technologies to provide improved information and simplified handling.