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Sudbury med-tech firm lands $8M in investment funds

Rna Diagnostics nearing completion of clinical trial for cancer diagnostic tool

Rna Diagnostics has received investment capital that will enable it to complete a clinical trial on its cancer diagnostic tool, the RNA Disruption Assay.

The Sudbury-based med-tech startup announced on Sept. 9 that it’s received $8 million from a group of investors, led by iGan Partners, a Toronto-based venture capital firm, and the Crown corporation BDC Capital.

That money will enable Rna Diagnostics to complete its trial, called the breast cancer response evaluation for individualized therapy (BREVITY), which began in 2018.

“The continued support of iGan Partners and our current investors, combined with the support of BDC Capital as a new investment partner, is exciting,” said John Connolly, president and CEO of Rna Diagnostics, in a news release.

“The closing of this series A financing will allow us to complete the pivotal validation trial (BREVITY) of the RNA Disruption Assay™ (RDA)™. BREVITY is currently recruiting patients at over 40 breast cancer centres in Europe and North America.”

IGan led the way during an earlier round of funding, in 2018, worth $5 million. Rna Diagnostics has additionally received funding through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, FedNor, the Northern Cancer Foundation, and the angel investment firm Northern Ontario Angels.

The RNA Disruption Assay determines whether a patient’s tumour is responding to cancer therapy five weeks into treatment.

If the patient’s tumour isn’t responding, the oncologist can change course, cutting down on lost treatment time and considering other treatment methods that may be more effective.

Rna Diagnostics believes this approach could reduce harmful side effects for patients and improve their chances of survival. It could also reduce costs for cancer treatment centres.

“This is an enormous, expensive problem for cancer centres,” Connolly added. “Typically, in solid tumour cancers, only 30 to 40 per cent of patients receive a survival benefit from a given drug regimen.”

The RNA Disruption Assay was discovered by Dr. Amadeo Parissenti, a researcher and professor at Laurentian University, in 2007.

In moving the test towards commercialization, Parissenti later founded Rna Diagnostics, which operates out of Sudbury’s Health Sciences North Research Institute, the research arm of the local hospital, Health Sciences North.