European diagnostics startups Protagen and 14M close venture rounds

A pair of European diagnostics companies have wrapped up venture financings. Autoimmune diagnostician Protagen had a first close of a €10 million ($12.5 million) financing, while cancer genomic diagnostics company, 14M Genomics, a spinout of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, got £12.5 million ($19.6 million).

With its financing, Protagen hopes to reach milestones under its partnership with Pfizer ($PFE) that was announced earlier this month to discover prediction and patient stratification markers for a novel drug in development by the pharma. The German diagnostics company also plans to use the money to support the mid-2014 launch of its ADx Multilisa SSc assay, which uses four biomarkers to identify patients with systemic sclerosis.

Protagen CEO Stefan Müllner (left) with CSO Peter Schulz-Knappe

"The financial investment will enable Protagen to complete and commercialize its current IVD development programs in rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, and systemic sclerosis," Protagen CEO Dr. Stefan Müllner added in a statement. "In addition, it will strengthen our position for furthering our partnerships with pharma and biotech companies in one of the most attractive drug development areas."

A second close is expected to close during the third quarter of 2015. Strategic backer Qiagen ($QGEN) joined in the financing with existing investors MIG Fonds of Munich, NRW.BANK of Düsseldorf and Protagen management. In November, Protagen and Qiagen partnered to accelerate the former's SeroTag technology platform, which enables the discovery and validation of novel protein-based marker panels.

As for 14M Genomics, it has raised the round from healthcare investment firm Syncona Partners to help it link genomic and clinical datasets to major cancers to provide a reference base for diagnostic and prognostic stratification of patients to help guide treatment decisions. Syncona is a subsidiary evergreen fund of the Wellcome Trust that was founded in 2012 and is investing its initial £200 million fund.

14M was founded by the leaders of the Sanger Institute Cancer Genome Project: Michael Stratton, Dr. Peter Campbell and Dr. Ultan McDermott. The startup is based on the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus and has licensed technology from the Sanger Institute; it is collaborating with undisclosed European clinical partners in its efforts.

"The Cancer Genome Project has enabled us to make important discoveries in cancer gene biology," Stratton said in a statement. "There is a real drive to introduce genomic medicine into healthcare, and the founding of 14M aspires to realize the clinical utility of cancer genomics through services to oncologists and patients."

- here are the releases from Protagen and 14M