Irish start-up Altratech raises €5m for molecular detection research

Altratech has raised €5m for “cutting-edge health research” that could enable anyone to perform rapid genetic tests from different samples.

The funding round was led by the Bank of Ireland Kernel Capital Growth Fund and Infinity Capital, which both invested €1.5m. Enterprise Ireland also invested €500,000 while Claret Capital provided €1.5m in a venture debt facility.

Cork-based Altratech is bringing together nanobiotechnology, chemistry and semiconductors to develop molecular detection tech that would allow people to rapidly and accurately measure and quantify viral RNA, DNA, antigen or antibody samples.

“Our team of 20 scientists and engineers have been developing our next-generation molecular detection since 2016,” said CEO Dr Tara Dalton.

Dalton previously founded Stokes Bio, which was sold to Life Technologies in 2010 for €33.4m. She now leads Altratech along with founders Dr Brian O’Farrell and Tim Cummins.

Dalton said the company has secured “key patents” in the US and EU for “our semiconductor capacitive detection, our sample prep and our bead tethering”, while seven further patents are pending in China, Japan, Europe and the US.

The fresh funding, along with previous investments and Horizon 2020 grants from the EU, “underpins the company’s scientific discoveries”, she added.

Leo Clancy, chief executive of Enterprise Ireland, said Altratech is led “by a seasoned team with a strong track record of success” and his agency is “proud to support this cutting-edge health research that has the capacity to make a positive difference globally”.

Kernel Capital was an early backer of the business and also participated in its 2017 funding round.

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Denise Sidhu, partner at Kernel Capital, said Altratech is now developing the “next generation of molecular detection”.

“We need to take molecular diagnostics outside the clinical setting, and current methodologies have significant limitations to achieving this,” she added. “Altratech’s patented solution will be suitable for use by anyone in any environment delivering superior sensitivity and specificity and compatible with any molecular target.”

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