Atlas Genetics raises $35M to develop rapid STI test

A view over Bath, U.K., where Atlas Genetics is based

Atlas Genetics has raised $35 million to trial and commercialize a 30-minute test for chlamydia and gonorrhea. The fundraising, which was backed by a Chinese IVD player, equips Atlas to take its second test through the clinic and on to a forecast FDA approval over the next 12 months.

Bath, U.K.-based Atlas returned to the backers of its $20 million Series C—including funds run by Novartis and Johnson & Johnson—for some of the latest cash injection. Atlas also brought Wondfo Biotech on board as a new financier, making it the latest Western company to benefit from China’s appetite for life science investment opportunities.

The $35 million, which moves the total raised by Atlas past $100 million, will fund development of a combined test for chlamydia and gonorrhea. Atlas sees the test potentially becoming its flagship product, despite it trailing its chlamydia-only diagnostic in development. The chlamydia test received a CE mark last year.

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Both products are based on Atlas’ io system. The system is built on test-specific cartridges and a device to read them. Unprocessed patient samples are loaded onto cartridges, which, in turn, are inserted into the io reader. Around 30 minutes later, the device says whether the test is positive or negative. This timeline is pivotal to Atlas’ pitch to healthcare systems.

“Our system will enable physicians to test and treat patients immediately for what can be distressing conditions. Immediate treatment enables better antibiotic stewardship and prevents onward transmission, which will help to reduce the associated financial burdens that these infections place on our healthcare systems,” Atlas CEO John Clarkson said in a statement.

To date, Atlas has primarily shown that the technology plays well with investors, but it is now nearing the point when it will discover whether its potential customers and users are as enthusiastic. Atlas is aiming to win approval for the combined test in the U.S. by the end of the year, while also working to get the product registered and on the market in Europe.

Some of the cash will go toward upping cartridge manufacturing capacity to meet the anticipated post-launch uptick in demand. Bespak, a subsidiary of Atlas investor Consort Medical, manufactures the cartridges for Atlas. Consort contributed approximately $3.9 million to the Series D, resulting in it holding a 15% share of the equity after the latest raise.

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