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City biotech firm poised to launch transplant tests; AFM backing for Biofortuna reaps reward.

Byline: TONYMcDONOUGH

A LIVERPOOL-BASED biotechnology company is just months away from launching a new range of procedures for testing patients and donors, prior to organ and bone marrow transplants.

Biofortuna, based at Merseybio, has pioneered the procedures and methods applicable to anti-body screening and DNA typing.

The techniques are designed to minimise the risk of rejection and have, according to the firm, significant advantages over existing procedures.

Biofortuna's team has more than 40 years' experience in the field of molecular diagnostics. Its team consists of chief executive Dr Mike Bunce, together with directors Ben Passey and David Charvill, all of whom previously worked for global biotechnology company, Dynal.

The company was set up in 2008 with the backing of Alliance Fund Managers (AFM) through the Liverpool Seed Fund.

AFM injected pounds 450,000 into Biofortuna in two rounds of funding to complete the proof of concept and commercialisation phases. Biofortuna has now received a further pounds 95,000 grant for research and development award from the Northwest

Development Agency (NWDA) to further enable development of a ground-breaking new method for DNA typing.

Mr Bunce said: "There are a variety of methods already on the market for carrying out transplant genotyping or antibody screening, but existing methods are either difficult to perform in large quantities, time-consuming, expensive, or require specialist interpretation. We are confident that the products we are developing will provide results that are more accurate, quicker and cheaper than anything else on the market and will be of benefit to those trying to match transplant donors and recipients.

"The support from AFM and the NWDA has been crucial in enabling us to develop our techniques and ultimately bring these products to market." AFM portfolio manager Lorna Green, added: "We believe the Biofortuna team has the necessary experience and know how to solve a number of end-user and clinical problems in a well-established and growing market." It has a number of potential users and distributors lined up for when its products become available in October of this year..Results that are accurate and quicker

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Pioneering team, from left: Lorna Green (AFM) and Geoff Wainwright (2bio), with David Charvill, Ben Passey and Mike Bunce
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 24, 2009
Words:365
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