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Epistem Seeks to Raise $6.7M as it Prepares to Launch MDx Instrument

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – UK firm Epistem today announced its intention to raise £4.2 million ($6.7 million) in net proceeds in preparation of the launch of its molecular diagnostics platform and a tuberculosis assay.

The company will place 793,398 new ordinary shares of its stock at 1.5 pence each with new and existing investors. The shares have been conditionally placed at a price of 545 pence per share, a 4 percent discount to Epistem's closing price on Dec. 6, the company said.

Peel Hunt is underwriting the placement.

The raise comes ahead of the anticipated launch of the Genedrive platform, a handheld, point-of-care molecular instrument for applications in bacterial, viral, fungal, and gene mutation diseases. The first assay to be launched with the system is a TB assay. In August Epistem inked a distribution deal with Becton Dickinson for the test.

The company said an increase in working capital requirements is anticipated in conjunction with the launch, and regulatory approval of the TB assay is expected in the Indian subcontinent during the first half of 2013. Epistem and Xcelris Labs announced a distribution deal for the assay covering India earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Manchester, UK-based Epistem is developing other assays for Genedrive, including assays for malaria, dengue fever, typhoid, HIV, hepatitis C, and a panel of sexually transmitted diseases. Epistem also plans to increase investments in the development of oncology, biosurveillance, and forensics test targets.

Epistem said the planned raise will fund an increase in resource and staff dedicated to Genedrive. The funding will also be directed at improving production capabilities and will strengthen the firm's balance sheet and allow it to pursue "a range of strategic options in the future as the company's various operating divisions continue to develop."

"We are about to enter a new and exciting phase of growth for Epistem with the launch of Genedrive, our first healthcare/diagnostic product," Epistem CEO Matthew Walls said in a statement. "We believe Genedrive can change the way diagnostics is delivered in 'near patient' settings by providing the 'gold standard' of DNA-based test results at significantly reduced cost in a simple to use device form."

A year ago the company announced plans to raise $4.4 million to accelerate development of Genedrive.