A DUBLIN firm which has developed a ground-breaking test for predicting the risk of hip fractures by analysing toenail clippings has secured funding of €1.5 million.
Crescent Diagnostics, which is based in DCU’s Invent centre, will use this funding to complete clinical trials necessary to receive regulation in Europe and the US, and ultimately to bring its patented BQT test for osteoporosis to market.
The company anticipates the BQT test, which was developed in University of Limerick, will enable GPs to diagnose patients at risk of osteoporosis-related bone fractures more quickly and cheaply.
Currently the standard screening method for the disease involves x-rays and requires a hospital visit. Crescent chief executive Ernie Poku says that once the BQT test becomes available, which he expects will happen within the next two years, GPs will simply send off a nail clipping sample from their patient and results will be made available within a matter of days.
Crescent hopes to set up a laboratory in Ireland where it will be able to analyse the protein structure of samples sent from around Europe, which will enable them to diagnose the likely risk of osteoporosis.
The current standard X-ray-based test for the disease – which causes thinning and weakening of the bones over time and increases the risk of hip and wrist fractures – assesses bone mass density.
Estimates suggest about 300,000 people in Ireland have osteoporosis. Mr Poku says early diagnosis is key, as 20 per cent of people who suffer a hip fracture die within 12 months. If a person is diagnosed early, very effective drug treatments are available.
The €1.5 million funding round was a syndicated deal between AIB Seed Capital Fund (co-managed by Enterprise Equity Venture Capital), Bank of Ireland Seed Fund (managed by Kernal Capital) and an existing venture Seroba BioVentures. The company is about 80 per cent Irish-owned.