Anti-cancer technology investment

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A PIONEERING invention, designed to help save the lives of thousands of women each year, could become commercially available thanks to a £1 million funding boost for its Sheffield inventors.

Sheffield Bioincubator-based Zilico has created a portable, hand-held device that instantly, painlessly and accurately detects cervical cancer, which affects around 500,000 women worldwide each year and is responsible for 300,000 deaths.

The Sheffield University and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust spin out has secured £750,000 from The North West Fund for Biomedical and a further £235,000 from investors, including Fusion IP, which commercialises the results of research carried out at Sheffield and Cardiff Universities.

Zilico’s device detects cervical cancer by measuring the resistivity of cells.

Currently, in the UK, women have a smear test every three to five years and then have to wait to find out the results, which are not 100 per cent accurate.

Zilico’s device can be used at the time of the smear test to give an instant result or during a detailed examination after a positive test and can tell whether cells are normal, precancerous or cancerous.

The new funding will finance further development and follows a key trial involving 400 women in three hospitals in the UK and Ireland, which Zilico hopes will result in it gaining vital European CE approval.

Zilico will use the new investment to complete the manufacture of commercial devices and establish routes to EU and other markets.

Chief executive Sameer Kothari, said: “It is the strength of the Zilico proposition, including the recent pivotal trial data, that has enabled us to secure this significant investment.”

Mr Kothari said he was particularly pleased to bring on board experienced healthcare investor SPARK Impact, which manages The North West Fund for Biomedical.