Alzheimer's Test Could Have Future after PS3.5m Deal

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Byline: GRAEMEBROWN graeme.brown@birminghampost.net

Groundbreaking research in Birmingham that could revolutionise the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease has been saved after a PS3.5 million funding deal.

Medical sciences firm Cytox - which is developing a simple blood test which could spot the disease before symptoms appear - collapsed in 2011, delivering a major blow to the city's hopes of becoming a centre for biotechnology.

Now a small army of investors - including one of Britain's richest men - have offered backing to the firm's new bosses, with funding that will ensure work for the next two years and beyond will continue.

Prime Minister David Cameron has identified improvements to the way dementia is diagnosed and treated as a "personal priority" - and the company, which has bases at the University of Birmingham and Oxford, could help deliver that.

Cytox's product, ADpredict, uses cell cycles to identify signs of Alzheimer's.

It was developed by director Dr Zsuzsanna Nagy, head of the neurodegeneration and repair team at the University of Birmingham.

Chief executive Richard Pither told the Post: "The reason we are so excited about this is not because it is another test for Alzheimer's disease diagnosis - it is because it could fundamentally change the way the pharmaceutical industry develops drugs and the way the clinical community treats its patients. And the University of Birmingham is the absolute bedrock of that work."

The Post reported in May 2011 how Cytox had entered voluntary administration despite winning significant backing from the likes of Birmingham-based Midven, National Lottery-funded innovation investor NESTA and money from business angels.

While it drummed up nearly PS2 million for its pioneering work, that still fell more than PS2 million short of what was needed, and it racked up "substantial" losses.

Mr Pither was brought on board six months later after meeting Cytox chairman David Evans - and believed in the product so much he left his job as global head of R&D at GE Healthcare and devised a new business plan.

He said ADpredict promised to improve the early diagnosis of dementia as current tests resulted in incorrect diagnoses more than 60 per cent of the time.

He added that, while the funding environment remained difficult, the backing showed the faith that the business and science community had in the product. …