UCD spinout OncoMark raises €2.1m in funding

Company seeking to commercialise new test OncoMasTR for early-stage breast cancer

UCD spinout company OncoMark has raised €2.1 million in funding as it seeks to commercialise a new test for early-stage breast cancer.

The company is being backed by Kernel Capital through the Bank of Ireland Kernel Capital Venture Funds, the Irrus Investments syndicate, the Galway HBAN MedTech syndicate, private investors and Enterprise Ireland.

The company’s test, OncoMasTR, aims to cut the number of patients receiving chemotherapy unnecessarily. Under current options women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer receive chemotherapy. However, a lack of accurate tests make it difficult to identify which patients will benefit from the treatment, so some women may receive it unnecessarily.

“This exposes individuals to severe side effects and results in significant costs to healthcare systems worldwide. Approximately 70 per cent of patients do not require chemotherapy after initial surgery, but it has been difficult to identify these individuals,” said OncoMark chief executive Des O’Leary.


“The OncoMasTR test is designed to enable a more personalised approach to patient care, helping clinicians to determine which patients should not receive chemotherapy, ultimately improving their quality of life.”

The test is based on a panel of genetic drivers of breast cancer identified through research led by Prof Adrian Bracken, Smurfit Institute of Genetics, Trinity College Dublin, and researchers at the UCD Conway Institute, led by Prof William Gallagher.

Latest round

The latest round of funding comes after the company won €2.7 million in funding through Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Phase 2 to clinically validate the OncoMasTR test. The test should be available mid-2018.

The company currently has 14 staff, a number which Mr O’Leary said he expected to grow in the years ahead. Co-founded by Prof Gallagher and Steve Penney, Oncomark is based at NovaUCD.

“The thriving Irish medtech sector continues its story of success, and the development of innovative products such as OncoMasTR contributes significantly to Ireland’s reputation as a leading global cluster for medical technologies. Companies like OncoMark are the future of the Irish economy,” said Dr Tom Kelly, head of Enterprise Ireland’s industrial, life sciences and consumer division.

"They have used Ireland's extensive innovation ecosystem and worked with the Enterprise Ireland commercialisation team to bring the fruits of academic inquiry to market and profitably."

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist