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Natantis Awarded £574k ($730k) in Funding

Researchers from Heriot-Watt University’s Natantis team are developing an innovative device that could revolutionise the way blood samples are prepared for use in cancer diagnosis and treatment monitoring, after being awarded £574,500 from Scottish Enterprise’s High Growth Spin-out Programme (HGSP).


The Natantis team, which hopes to spin-out into a commercial venture by 2020, has created the CNAsafe device to extract cell-free nucleic acids (cfNA) from whole blood. The demand for the type of testing this facilitates – known as liquid biopsies – is growing, as it replaces invasive and often impractical tissue biopsies.


Extracting cfNA from blood has until now been a labour-intensive, highly-skilled and time-consuming process taking place across two distinct stages, often in different locations up to one week apart. Using CNAsafe samples could be extracted in just 45 minutes to deliver results that are more reliable, of a higher quality and cheaper to produce.


The unique device consists of a portable base unit and disposable, single-use cartridges. It is operable by non-experts without the need for additional lab equipment. Main applications to date have been in cancer and prenatal screening, with potential uses in toxicology and transplant monitoring.


The Natantis team has already attracted commercial interest in the technology and is in discussion with a number of potential investors. The liquid biopsy market as a whole is worth $2-3 billion and is estimated to grow to $5-6 billion by 2022.

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