Medical start-up EMI moves in to BioQuarter

A START-UP company working to speed up the diagnosis of lung diseases will this week move into new offices and laboratory space following a successful £4 million fund-raising.
Shaun Millican: backs VC tie-up. Picture: ContributedShaun Millican: backs VC tie-up. Picture: Contributed
Shaun Millican: backs VC tie-up. Picture: Contributed

Edinburgh Molecular Imaging (EMI) is taking 2,300 square feet at Edinburgh’s BioQuarter following the deal, which gives venture capital (VC) fund Epidarex a majority stake in the business. EMI is also recruiting two additional senior members of staff.

Epidarex, Scotland’s first new life science VC firm in more than a decade, recently closed a £47.5m fund dedicated to UK start-ups. Backers ­include European Investment Fund, Scottish Enterprise, the Strathclyde Pension Fund, US drug giant Eli Lilly, King’s College London and other major research universities.

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Spun out at the start of this year, EMI is based on the work of Dr Kev Dhaliwal and professors Mark Bradley and Christopher Haslell from Edinburgh University’s college of ­medicine. They have created a process for “marking” specific diseases which can then be picked up by scanners and other imaging equipment.

Ian Wilson, EMI’s senior technology officer, said this could cut the time it takes to diagnose a disease from 48 hours to two hours or less. This would aid in managing an array of complex diseases such as lung cancer, fibrosis, respiratory infections and acute respiratory distress syndrome.

“It is very hard to know sometimes whether a lung ­disorder is still active or not,” he said. “Long intervals to ­diagnose a disease delays treatment, and for intensive care patients this can lead to death.”

Recruited to head the newly formed EMI, Wilson spent the past two years working with Xstrahl, a multinational ­designer and developer of X-ray equipment. Before that he spent 18 years with US conglomerate GE, where he was latterly head of biology based out of London.

The £4m from Epidarex will fund clinical development of a lung cancer application and Phase II trials of a diagnosis for bacterial infection for two years. Advisers to EMI on the deal included Johnston Carmichael.

Shaun Millican, the firm’s head of technology and life sciences, said: “The emergence of venture capital groups like ­Epidarex Capital, which has based its operations in Edinburgh, is a welcome development which bodes well for the sector.”

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