Loxbridge Research (Loxbridge) has announced that Freeno.me, a project focused on improving early cancer detection, co-innovated with Thiel Fellow Riley Ennis, has been named as one of five winners of the Verizon Powerful Answers Award in the Healthcare category.
As part of the award Freeno.me receives $700K (£425K) which will serve as seed funding for the project and will be used for recruitment of staff and further development of the data analysis software platform.
Freeno.me focuses on enabling earlier cancer detection through development of a platform, which builds on emerging evidence of cell-free circulating DNA and its potential as a novel biomarker, to detect and monitor cancer at disease stages where clinical benefit can be gained.
Combining proprietary software architecture being generated by Freeno.me with Loxbridge's experience in cell-free DNA, built through its founding of Premaitha Health - the UK-based prenatal diagnosis company also using cell-free DNA as a source biomarker - the project aims to make interpretable and actionable information based on cell-free DNA biomarkers available to researchers, clinicians and, eventually, patients.
There is potential for the technology to be used for treatment monitoring and new companion diagnostics, and being applied eventually through the use of cloud computing and mobile applications.
Freeno.me is already in early discussions with interested pharmaceutical companies regarding the use of the platform to enhance clinical trials. Loxbridge has been actively collaborating on the project with Mr Ennis, who was selected as one of the ‘20 under 20’ by Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founder and early Facebook investor, for his Fellowship programme.
The Fellowship aims to mentor and develop young entrepreneurs in building innovative scientific and technical projects, to create the defining companies of tomorrow.
The Verizon Powerful Answers Awards were held as an open-call competition for individuals and companies with the most innovative and empowering solutions, in the key areas of healthcare, education and sustainability. Over 1,300 ideas were submitted globally, and 10 finalists in each category were chosen to pitch their ideas to a panel of renowned judges for the opportunity to win up to $1 million (£600K). With Freeno.me, Loxbridge is the only UK-based winner. The Awards were presented by Verizon Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, USA.
Dr Charles Roberts, CEO of Loxbridge and co-founder of Freeno.me, commented: "We are honoured by Verizon's recognition of the Freeno.me technology and plan, and the benefits it may bring to patients through earlier diagnosis of life-threatening conditions in the future. We are grateful for Verizon's foresight, and the vision of CEO Lowell McAdam, who has driven these awards from the start and been extremely supportive to all of the winners. The Powerful Answers Awards offer exactly the sort of recognition, and vital source of seed funding, that can make or break an ambitious start-up enterprise with a big mission during those fragile early days when securing venture investment is so challenging - and spur it on to success."