OXcan, short for Oxford Cancer Analytics, began life in the Oxford Foundry. The founders, Dr Peter Jianrui Liu and Andreas Halner were frustrated by the low rates of early cancer detection in wider patient care. The two Oxford-educated scientists want “to shape a future in which early cancer detection becomes the norm rather than the exception”. They apply machine learning techniques to anonymised patient data sets to flag risk levels. They combine this with cutting-edge liquid biopsy techniques, searching for stage one lung cancer biomarkers. The company joined the BioEscalator community at the start of June 2022 and will have 3 lab benches with us from November 2022.
OXcan is building a future in which patients will no longer have to wait for an anxiety-inducing series of X-Rays, CT Scans, and Bronchoscopies. This procedure involves passing a tube down your throat and into your airways to scrape off cells for analysis. If lung cancer is caught earlier with OXcan’s painless screening technology, fewer patients will face agonising rounds of ultimately unsuccessful treatment.
OXcan recently raised £1.28M ($1.77M) in an oversubscribed seed round and is now supported by Cancer Research UK, Civilisation Ventures, the Francis Crick Institute, Oxford Technology Management, and MegaRobo. Joining this international group of backers are business angels such as the Chief Digital Officer of T-Mobile USA, Marcus East, and the former European President of GlaxoSmithKline, Brad Wilson.
Liu first met Halner when the former was serving as President of the Oxford University Scientific Society, aiming to foster interdisciplinary scientific collaborations. After beating 100 other entrants to win the Oxford University All-Innovate competition in 2019, the pair worked through incubators such as Oxford Elevate, KQ Labs, and the Alderley Park Oncology Development Programme. With initial results validating their approach, Liu and Halner are now using their seed funding to rapidly scale the business and hire talent in AI, clinical medicine, business development, and regulatory affairs. In addition, to ensure that as many at-risk individuals as possible can access easy, effortless screening, they’re busy partnering with hospitals, clinics, and doctors, from Canada to China. The latter is of particular note: it’s a huge market where risk factors for lung cancer such as smoking and air pollution remain stubbornly high.