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24 September, 2020 - 22:35 By Tony Quested

CMS Ventures invests in Cambridge AI MedTech startup

Cambridge imaging analytics company Qureight has clinched £500K in seed funding from CMS Ventures, a move which will enable the startup to launch the second iteration of its ground-breaking AI-based platform.

The Papworth Hospital medical professionals behind the gamechanging business have already built a first-class team. This funding and the progress made to date is the first fruit of a collaboration launched earlier this year between CMS, AstraZeneca, and Cambridge Judge Business School according to CJBS Dean, Professor Christoph Loch.

CMS Ventures is the Cambridge-based investment arm of China Medical System Holdings Limited. It is dedicated to biotech & life science startups focusing on the 4Ds – drugs, devices, diagnostics and digital. The rapidly growing market for clinical imaging analytics is set to be worth $4.3 billion (£3.4 billion) by 2025. 

Qureight is one of the more specialist companies in the industry with strong clinical expertise from its founders and sees this funding as a route to scale. It also aims to develop a newly improved and streamlined version of its analytical platform – harnessing the ability of AI and advanced processing tools to gain new insights into respiratory diseases such as Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) and lung cancer.

IPF is a condition which results in an irreversible scarring of the lungs, causing breathing to become increasingly difficult over time. Although several novel drugs exist to slow disease progression, the cause of IPF remains unclear and no cure is yet available to patients. 

Lung cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in men and the third most commonly occurring cancer in women worldwide.

The Cambridge, UK-based start-up was founded in 2018 with a vision to transform routine real-world clinical data into structured information suitable for scientific research and the development of AI tools. 

In essence, Qureight works closely with innovative and established companies in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors to transform raw patient data into effective models which in turn can be used to better diagnose and realise treatments for respiratory diseases.

Qureight co-founder and CEO Dr Muhunthan Thillai, said: “This investment will allow us to grow our team and capitalise on recent partnerships in industry to analyse upcoming clinical trial data in a number of respiratory diseases. 

“Crucially, it will allow us to launch the next iteration of our platform to deeper integrate with large data sets. We are really excited that CMS Ventures has decided to join us on the journey as we scale the company. By unlocking the data from an individual patient journey, we will be able to help many others with the same diseases.”

Dr Thillai is the director for the Cambridge Interstitial Lung Disease Unit. He has a background in laboratory research with a PhD from Imperial College London in the immunology of lung diseases. 

He is accompanied by co-founder and chief operating officer Dr Alessandro Ruggiero who is a cardio-thoracic radiologist with a PhD in molecular imaging. Dr Ruggiero was one of the first researchers in the world to publish work on the use of Cerenkov luminescence imaging. 

Professor Christoph Loch, one of the masterminds behind the CJBS-AstraZeneca-CMS Ventures alliance, said: “The CMS investment in Qureight is a success on multiple fronts: it is a win for the Cambridge ecosystem, for the brilliant team at Qureight, and it marks the first fruit of the collaboration launched earlier this year between CMS, AstraZeneca, and CJBS.

“This partnership aims to bridge a gap in the funding in the UK for biotech and life sciences early stage ventures – building on the strategic partnership that AstraZeneca and CJBS have developed since 2015 and that has seen over 80 AZ employees engage, mentor, and grow local biotech and life sciences startups.”

• PHOTOGRAPH: Qureight founders Dr Alessandro Ruggiero and Dr Muhunthan Thillai 

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