OncoRes, which is developing an imaging tool to improve the outcome of breast cancer surgery, emerged as one of two finalists from last week’s Australian round of the international Pitch@Palace competition comprising 42 entrants, before progressing to the global finals in London.
Overnight, OncoRes were given two minutes to pitch the company to a room of influential investors, tech entrepreneurs and industry professionals at St. James’s Palace, London, against 22 other start-ups, before being announced as joint-winners.
While there is no cash prize associated with Pitch@Palace, it provides exposure to an influential global audience and comes with a guarantee that the winners will be actively promoted to the Pitch@Place network.
OncoRes Managing Director and CEO, Dr Katharine Giles, says, “Global recognition for our technology is hugely beneficial not only for OncoRes, but also for Australian and Western Australian medical research. Success at events like Pitch@Palace enable us to provide exposure to the high-level medical innovations that have been coming out of Australia for a long time, but have not historically received the support needed to grow and commercialise their technology locally”.
OncoRes is looking to raise $15 million in Series B financing early next year to help the company progress through FDA approval and pivotal clinical trials. To date the company has received $6m of venture capital investment from the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF), Australia’s leading life science investment fund.
The OncoRes team is developing a handheld imaging probe and console to provide real-time intraoperative guidance to surgeons by delineating breast cancer tumour from healthy tissue, at a microscopic level. OncoRes Medical’s goal is to provide surgeons with an image identifying residual cancerous tissue remaining within the breast, so it can be removed during surgery, reducing the need for repeat surgery, which currently happens in 30 percent of cases.
Unnecessary surgeries cost the health care system over $2 billion annually in Europe and US and this figure does not take into account the physical, psychological and economic impact of these surgeries on patients and their families. In a recent diagnostic accuracy study, OncoRes’ technology recorded 95 percent accuracy in detecting cancerous tissue across a sample of 70 patients.
OncoRes Medical’s Chief Scientific Officer, Brendan Kennedy from the University of Western Australia and the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research says, “It’s fantastic that the OncoRes team has received this recognition. Our clinical studies and technical development have gone really well this year and this is the icing on the cake. We’re looking forward to pushing on next year and moving closer to product launch”.
Leading breast cancer surgeon, Professor Christobel Saunders AO who leads the clinical development, says “As a surgeon, our problem is not being able to identify the extent of a cancer at operation and thus the risk of leaving cancerous cells behind. We believe this technology has the potential to overcome this, leading to more efficient and effective surgery for the many hundreds of thousands of people who undergo cancer surgery globally each year”.
After breast cancer, the team plans to see the technology used in the fight against other cancers and to be used in robotic surgery.