Vigilant Biosciences reels in $5.5M for oral cancer test

Vigilant Biosciences CEO Matthew Kim

Vigilant Biosciences roped in $5.5 million in a Series B round to support development of its diagnostic system for the early detection of oral cancer, giving the company a boost as it eyes European and stateside approval for its product.

Investors including White Owl Capital Partners, venVelo and the Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research contributed financing, bringing the total amount raised to date to $7.8 million. The Miami, FL-based company plans to use funds to gain CE Mark and FDA approval for its OncAlert Oral Cancer Risk Assessment System, Vigilant said in a statement.

OncAlert consists of a noninvasive, easy-to-use mouth rinse that screens for specific protein markers indicating an early risk for oral cancer. The majority of oral cancer patients are detected through a visual exam, at which point they are already symptomatic or in the late stages of cancer. Early diagnosis of oral cancer boasts a cure rate of up to 90%, Vigilant said in a statement, cutting down on deaths associated with the disease.

"As hundreds of thousands continue to be diagnosed with oral cancer every year, we are committed to providing an accurate, effective and affordable way to aid in the early detection of risk for the disease," Vigilant CEO Matthew Kim said in a statement. "This funding will enable us to address this critical market need that has gone unmet for far too long."

The company also plans to use funds toward an international product launch and commercialization of its OncAlert test and other products in its pipeline. OncAlert's rapid diagnostic and lab assay are under CE Mark review, and Vigilant expects to release the product in the second quarter this year.

Vigilant is not the only company making headway with early-stage cancer tests. Diagnostics outfits such as Nucleix, VolitionRx and Exact Sciences ($EXAS) are also charting progress in the field, bringing in funds and inking deals to expand the reach for its products. In June, Israel's Nucleix raked in more than $5 million to develop its test for the early detection of bladder cancer. Earlier this month, Exact extended its collaboration with the Mayo Clinic to create new diagnostic products for colorectal cancer and other GI diseases.

- read the release

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