17 January 2007
Lumora Ltd today announces a key investment deal with Tate & Lyle Ventures, a newly formed venture fund focused on the food sector. The investment will accelerate Lumoras product development programme bringing a new generation of molecular diagnostics to market. In particular, Lumora will target the diverse diagnostic demands of the food sector where there is a growing need for rapid, low-cost diagnostics to detect food-borne pathogens in particular.
Molecular diagnostics is where organisms/diseases are detected and identified from miniscule amounts of DNA. It is an extremely powerful approach, one that is revolutionising the diagnosis of disease in clinical settings. However, molecular diagnostics require complicated and costly hardware, expensive reagents and highly-trained staff to operate: it is simply too costly for many potential users to afford. However, Lumora’s technology greatly simplifies molecular diagnsotics by coupling the detection of specific DNA molecules to a simple light output. This is made possible using engineered “firefly luciferase” (which gives fireflies their glow).
Remarkably, this means that just a simple light detector or camera is required to analyse samples. As a result performing diagnostics becomes simple and low-cost.
The simplicity makes low-cost portable devices possible, avoiding the time delays of sending samples off to a laboratory: this means faster results even on a small budget.
Lumora’s technology has significant implications for the food sector where rapid, accurate diagnostics increase consumer protection (and confidence), increase the efficiency of production and decrease the time finished products are stored awaiting laboratory testing. Aside from pathogen detection, Lumora’s technology enables the detection of GM ingredients in products and can be used to combat food fraud by assessing the provenance of natural food ingredients.
Outside of the food sector, Lumora’s DNA-based detection platform has wide applications in human healthcare diagnostics, animal welfare, and even counterterrorism, where Lumora’s cost-effective approach would be equally attractive.
Lumora was established in 2002 by two leading academics in the field of biotechnology, Dr. Laurence Tisi and Professor Jim Murray from Cambridge University’s Institute of Biotechnology. Lumora started operations in 2003 developing novel assays for the military, received Seed investment in March 2004 from a set of private investors headed by Business Angel Peter Kohl and the University of Cambridge Challenge Fund and obtained over £500,000 in grants and awards between 2004 and present. Dr. Chris Keightley became Lumora’s Chairman following the Seed-Round and continues to play a key strategic role in the company.