Cancer drug testing specialist Carcinotech has raised £4.2 million of funding as it looks to build on its traction in the UK and Europe, with US expansion planned later this year.

Set up in 2018 as a spin-out from the University of Edinburgh, Carcinotech's technology enables the manufacture of 3D printed micro-tumours to help accelerate ethical drug screening and the delivery of more effective cancer treatments to market. 

The company, which currently employs 10 people, has developed industry partnerships in Europe with firms such as Gothenburg's CELLINK, a specialist in bioprinting solutions. Ishani Malhotra, founder and chief executive of Carcinotech, said the aim now is to replicate such partnerships in North America.

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“Our vision is to be at the forefront of cancer drug testing and provide personalised medicine testing to every individual suffering from cancer to improve their treatment and chance of survival," she said. " Working with global partners, leading pharma companies, surgeons, pathologists, and clinicians, Carcinotech aims to significantly accelerate oncology drug development.” 

Eos Advisory was lead investor on the funding deal alongside the Investment Fund for Scotland (IFS), one of a series of nations and regions investment funds set up last year by the British Business Bank. It is the first equity deal from the £150m IFS, which is managed by Maven Capital Partners.

The lead investors are joined by Scottish Enterprise, Old College Capital, and Investing Women Angels along with existing investors Tricapital, SIS Ventures, Gabriel Investment Syndicate, and Alba Equity.  

Carcinotech has also recently strengthened its board, chaired by industry veteran Albert Nicholl, and last year launched a scientific advisory board with world renowned oncology leaders.

Director of portfolio Anne Muir said Eos was excited to continue its support of Carcinotech as it enters this next phase of growth which is expected to include new jobs at its based in Edinburgh.

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"Ishani and her team are breaking new ground in oncology, they combine a deep knowledge of the field with technology-driven systems that are set to bring about greater efficiencies in cancer research workflows," she added.

Maven partner David Milroy said: “Carcinotech’s progress over the last 12 months has been impressive and the company is ideally placed to capitalise on the need for more predictive, non-animal models for testing of anti-cancer drugs and the huge opportunity for personalised medicine in cancer treatment.

"Carcinotech’s models are reproducible and provided in a familiar format for high-throughput screening, key requirements for adoption by the pharmaceutical industry for the testing of drug candidates."

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An estimated 19.3 million cancer cases occurred globally in 2020 with a fatality rate of almost 10 million deaths, with breast (11.7%), lung (11.4%), colorectal (10%) and prostate (7.3%) being the most fatal. Although cancer affects millions there are still a limited number of effective therapies available, and those that are available have a high degree of variation from patient to patient.

Kerry Sharp, director of entrepreneurship at Scottish Enterprise, said it is great to see Carcinotech expanding into the US to further develop its potentially life-saving technologies.

"Human health is a key opportunity area for Scotland and we believe that innovative, scaling companies like Carcinotech have an important role to play in transforming our economy," she added.