“We have five shots on goal, three of which will be this year.”
That’s how Netscientific PLC (LON:NCSI) boss Francois Martelet summed up prospects for the year ahead on a recent visit to Proactive.
By shots on goal, of course, Martelet is referring to the possibility of any one of the five core NetScientific portfolio companies achieving a commercial exit either through a sale or listing, be it totally or partially.
To be at this point for a small biotech IP specialist such as Netscientific is impressive, believes Martelet, but he admits the icing on the cake will be if one of its five core companies moves to the next level.
Newsflow is likely to remain strong as the portfolio companies gear up towards some form of M&A and Martelet is looking for one ‘hard exit’ to give it the flexibility to refresh the portfolio.
The company is in the process of raising £5mln, with a possible further £1mln through a share issue at 52.5p.
Long-term backer Woodford Investment Management has again showed its support by putting up at least half of the money.
In the document alongside the placing, Netsceintific said Series A financings are planned for Glycotest in this half year and for Vortex and Wanda in late 2018.
The core portfolio
LIquid biopsy system developer Vortex has already been busy this year.
Vortex’s system collects circulating tumour cells (CTC) from the bloodstream to provide early signs of the killer disease.
Earlier this month, Vortex signed a collaboration deal with BioView, a provider of automated cell imaging and analysis solutions.
Martelet, Vortex’s chairman, said adding BioView to the mix will allow automated identification of the biomarkers expressed by CTCs collected by the platform.
PDS Biotechnology, meanwhile, is collaborating on a phase II immuno-therapy trial of its Versamune-based PDS0101 candidate metastatic head and neck cancer in combination with Merck’s best-selling cancer treatment Keytruda.
PDS0101 combines Versamune with harmless multi-epitope peptides derived from cancer-causing proteins of the HPV virus, but, critically, which are recognised by the immune system.
ProAxsis is a diagnostics company based in Northern Ireland, developing a range of products to identify active protease biomarkers of diseases.
The tests deploy smart molecules to trap an active protease within a complex biological sample and enable a visual readout of its presence.
Martelet says the business should break-even this year on £1mln of revenues and has just recorded the first sales of its NEATstik point-of-care test for measuring neutrophil elastase, a presence of which is a now being considered as a contributor to lung disease.
Glycotest is developing a test for liver cancers and fibrosis-cirrhosis.
In January, a blind evaluation of 149 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the Panel was able to determine whether or not a patient had liver cancer with a “high predictability”.
“Given that liver cancer is the fastest growing cause of death in the US and the leading cause of death in China, we believe that the positive outcome of the trial will be very significant for patients suffering with HCC.
“Commercially, we believe the opportunity to be very attractive, with an estimated total accessible market of US$1bn annually.”
A series A’ round of funding is likely this year to raise US$10mln.
Wanda, based in San Francisco, has developed a way remotely to monitor people with congestive heart failure and other chronic conditions.
Healthcare group HRS is running a pilot of the Wanda product across all of their patients after a successful trial with high-risk heart patients.
At 50.6p, Netscientific is valued at £37mln.