Vigilant Biosciences, an oral cancer testing company, announced that it has raised a total of $10.5 million in Series B financing.
The second phase of the Series B round brought in $5 million and investors in this phase included White Owl Capital Partners, venVelo and others. Investment in this round also came from a group of private and angels, according to a news release from the company.
The money will be used in commercialization efforts, especially to make the Fort Lauderdale, Florida company’s OncAlert Oral Cancer product line available abroad. The OncAlert Oral Cancer product line comprises two tests — the OncAlert Lab test and the OncAlert Rapid test that the company bills as the “first and only commercially-available technologies” that measure the “combination of soluble CD44, a tumor-initiating and stem cell associated biomarker, and total protein levels” that have been clinically proved to be associated with oral cancer.
Both products are in the form of an oral rinse and are meant to help clinicians detect oral cancer early. These tests bear the CE Mark and are available in certain markets outside the U.S.
Domestically, the money raised will also be used to advance Vigilant Biosciences’s OncAlert Labs, a CLIA certified laboratory that provides the OraMark Test, to also test and measure for the same biomarker and protein combination.
In an email, Vigilant Biosciences CEO Matthew H. J. Kim said that no other company has a test comprising tumor-initiating and stem cell associated marker, together with total protein measurements, to aid in the diagnosis for oral cancer. There are other biomarker tests on the market, but Kim said they are more expensive.
“Separate from biomarker tests, there are light-based tests on the market but those can be subjective, cumbersome, and capital cost intensive.” Kim wrote. “These light-based tests enhance viewing but they detect abnormalities generally without specificity for oral cancer consistently and objectively so as to continue to be a challenge for many healthcare practitioners in the frontline clinical setting.”
The Oral Cancer Foundation estimates that nearly 48,250 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year and mortality rates associated with this condition is high. The Foundation believes that the reason for high death rates are the result of the disease being detected too late.
And this is where the tests made by Vigilant can have an impact.
“The chances of survival for Stage I and II (cancer) can be as high as 80%-90%,” Kim believes. “In contrast, late stage intervention typically has lower survival with rates around 20%. These statistics unfortunately have not changed materially in decades.”
Earlier detection and treatment also reduces the cost to treat the disease in later stages as well as have less physical and emotional effect on patients.
“Costs of intervention for Stage I and Stage II can be a fraction of the cost for late stage intervention,” Kim said. “Earlier intervention could mean less disfigurement, less loss of speech, less loss of function, and overall less impairment to quality of life that often results from later stage intervention.”