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6 April, 2020 - 11:50 By Tony Quested

Censo pledges 15,000 COVID-19 tests a month after Hancock’s SOS

Cambridge-based drug discovery business Censo Biotechnologies is repurposing its laboratories at Babraham Research Campus and Roslin near Edinburgh, to help meet Matt Hancock's challenge to complete 100,000 COVID-19 tests by the end of April.

It says it will soon be able to complete 15,000 COVID-19 diagnostic tests per month in a bid to help the country combat the virus.

The life science technology specialist says it will process a minimum of 500 diagnostic tests every day. These will enable the NHS to test their staff and tell anxious patients whether or not they are suffering from the virus. 

Censo has the capacity to rise to his challenge because of a recent injection of funds from its principal investor, Par Equity, an Edinburgh-based VC firm that specialises in hi-tech businesses including in hi-tech heartlands.

Mike Hawthorne, CEO of Censo said: “As a life science company we have spent 15 years finding ways of improving the lives of patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases around the world. 

“We were recently able to donate some PPE equipment to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge and when the COVID-19 crisis emerged we saw another opportunity to help people in the UK. 

“We have been working with NHS Scotland for several weeks to see how our team and equipment can be used to run virus testing and we are now  finalising exactly how we will work together. Our whole team is delighted to be able to play a part in supporting our hospitals and GPs tackle the crisis.”

Paul Munn, managing partner of Par Equity added: “We are excited about Censo as they are global leaders in their field. At this challenging time it is particularly gratifying for both Par Equity and the investors in Censo to see a company in their portfolio supporting the NHS and government in this way. 

“We invested in Censo for the long term so I am thrilled that that it will also have such an important short-term impact.”

Censo’s proprietary technology allows potential new therapies to be tested on relevant human cell models. It is well known that testing on animals doesn’t correlate neatly with testing in humans, however it is too risky to test early stage therapies in humans.

Censo is bridging that gap using its ability to make any human cell and combine them together to create a living environment similar to that in the body. Potential new drugs are screened through this environment to see what effects they have.

Censo is a global leader in the fields of neurodegenerative and immunological drug discovery and counts global top-ten pharmaceutical and biotech companies among its partners.

The company has recently developed exciting potential human cell therapy candidates aimed at treating multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s Disease, motor neurone disease and pulmonary fibrosis.

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