Clare company Altratech has raised €2.2 million to further develop a device that will revolutionise the diagnosis of infectious viral diseases, including HIV.
The new funds come just a month after the University of Limerick spinout received €3 million in funding under the EU Horizon 2020 programme.
Altratech is developing a single-use test kit that will allow “point of care” testing of infectious diseases. This could be anything from a viral outbreak in a disaster zone away from normal medical infrastructure or quick diagnosis in a GP’s surgery.
At present, such testing is carried out by specialist laboratories using highly trained staff. This is costly and can take time to deliver results before treatment can be delivered. And it is even more problematic for treating patients in crisis zones in developing countries.
Company chief executive Tara Dalton says the funds will allow the Irish start-up to develop a working prototype of its design. It will then run initial trials of the device in collaboration with an Irish hospital before working its way through the rigorous regulatory process required for approval to sell its product.
The latest funds have come from Bank of Ireland's Kernel Capital Growth Fund and from Cyril McGuire's Infinity Capital. Kernel was an early stage investor in the business, putting €650,000 into the venture back in its initial funding round in 2014 alongside Enterprise Ireland.
Altratech was founded by semiconductor specialist Tim Cummins, biotechnologist Brian Farrell and Dr Dalton, an engineer.
“We want to do viral testing that you can do anywhere and we believe we have the innovation to do that,” said Dr Dalton, who said the idea came from a conversation she had initially with Dr Cummins after both had separately sold previous ventures that had been funded by Kernel.
The Altratech team, she said, had “brought together the electronic perspective, the engineering perspective and the biological perspective, with a focus on innovation”.