Protagen raised €10 million (about $12.7 million) in a second round of financing with new and existing investors. The funds will be used to expand the firm’s diagnostics business unit and carry out clinical validation of its portfolio of diagnostic biomarkers. Protagen says it is currently focusing on the development of serum-based molecular diagnostics for the early detection of multiple sclerosis and for the differential diagnosis of prostate cancer. It also aims to exploit its UNIarray® platform for the development of additional serum-based molecular diagnostics.
“This new financing round will allow us the completion of our current development programs until market launch and to evolve to a preferred partner for out-licensing opportunities within the diagnostic industry,” remarks Stefan Müllner, Ph.D., CEO.
Protagen’s UNIarray technology has been developed to enable the systematic identification of autoantibody signatures in blood for the development of new in vitro diagnostics and companion diagnostics for patient stratification and therapy selection.
The firm claims its UNIclone® protein expression libraries represent the world’s largest collection of recombinant human protein expression libraries derived from fetal brain, liver, CD4+ T-cell, lung and colon, expressed in E. coli as His-tagged fusion proteins. The UNIarray platform is designed to allow the interaction of autoantibodies from patient samples with these antigens to be evaluated rapidly and with high efficiency and a high degree of automation. The firm says it has used its technologies to discover and validate unique biomarkers against autoimmune diseases, cancer, inflammatory diseases and neurodegenerative disorders.
Protagen’s lead programs are centered on prostate cancer and multiple sclerosis serum diagnostics. Earlier-stage research programs include the identification of autoantibody markers for the early diagnosis of multiple cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, Parkinson disease and Alzheimer disease. The company’s strategy is to license out validated autoantibody markers and marker panels for disease diagnosis, and establish long-term R&D partnerships with diagnostic and pharmaceutical companies.