Canadian Electronics Design Product News PIQ

MaRS Innovation and others commit over $1 Million to rapid molecular diagnostic technology

October 27, 2010 Written by 
MaRS Innovation announced a $500,000 investment in the Toronto company, Xagenic Inc. When combined with funds from other investors and lenders, the new working capital provided to Xagenic totals $1.04 million. 

This follow-on financing includes a $300,000 loan from HTX, The Health Technology Exchange; $200,000 from The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research; $40,000 from the Ontario Centre of Excellence Centre for Commercialization of Research; and the $500,000 from MaRS Innovation.

Xagenic has created a revolutionary class of chip-based molecular diagnostics. The Xagenic technology delivers unprecedented speed and sensitivity to analyzing genetic material from bacterial and human cells. Using a breakthrough in engineering matter at the nanoscale, Xagenic employs its patented nanostructured microelectrodes to achieve highly sensitive nucleic acid sensors that detect DNA and RNA with record-breaking speed.

Existing molecular tests present many challenges: they are complex and time-consuming, and they require skilled laboratory technicians and complex sample preparation. Xagenic's chip, coupled with streamlined sample processing, will enable these tests to be completed in a doctor's office or at the patient's bedside in 30 minutes or less. Xagenic's platform has the potential for detecting many conditions, from bacterial infections to genetic disease and cancer.

Xagenic's technology was created by Dr. Shana Kelley, a highly recognized scientist at the University of Toronto with direct experience in commercialization.

Dr. Kelley, Professor in the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy and the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, includes in her many honours and awards being a member of Canada's Top 40 Under 40, and in MIT's Technology Review Top 100 in 2004. She is co-founder of GeneOhm Sciences, a diagnostic company acquired by Becton Dickinson in 2005 while Dr. Kelley was on the faculty of Boston College.

Said Rafi Hofstein, CEO of MaRS Innovation: "Xagenic provides a unique technology platform that addresses critical and unmet clinical needs in hospitals, clinics and doctors' offices. This investment in Xagenic is the first in a series of announcements of several other new company creations in the next few months."

The Xagenic incorporation and funding reflects the commitment of MaRS Innovation and its 16 partners in identifying exciting inventions and moving those ideas towards the marketplace. A recurring challenge for Canadian spin-off companies is securing early-stage financing that lets them grow and develop here at home. Through the years, many brilliant Canadian researchers have developed technologies that were rapidly acquired on advantageous terms by investors in other nations, most commonly the USA. 

Hofstein added: "MaRS Innovation in very excited about the potential of the Xagenic technology. It is still early days for this company. This investment, however, sends a strong signal to researchers working in our partner institutions. MaRS Innovation wants to help develop Ontario technology to its fullest potential, right here and right now."

Professor Peter Lewis, Associate Vice President, Research at U of T, noted that "This is a perfect example of how partnership can result in an innovation that will benefit global society and enhance the research capacity of Canada. You can be assured that there will be many more of these types of announcements from the collaboration between U of T and MaRS Innovation." Lewis is also Interim Executive Director of U of T's Innovations & Partnerships Office. 

www.marsinnovation.com

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