Maastricht, November 2023
Dutch start-up MLA Diagnostics, on a mission to improve tailored treatments for skin cancer patients, secures funding for continued development towards clinical trials.
Cutaneous melanoma, a cancer that starts in the pigment-making cells of the skin, annually claims tens of thousands of lives while hundreds of thousands more are heavily affected by this disease. In current care, patients are often under- or overtreated: they follow unnecessary surveillance programs and experience unrest due to the perceived risk of cancer progression or are classified as low risk while the cancer progresses without adequate surveillance or treatment. It’s safe to say that dermatologists, pathologists and oncologists currently are dealing with less-than-optimal prognosis systems.
Manon van Engeland, Co-founder at MLA Dx: “Our molecular test is very easy to use because it can be applied to the regular diagnostic workflow that is already being implemented at clinical pathology labs.’’
MLA Diagnostics was founded by NLC Health Ventures, Brightlands Life Science Ventures and Prof. Manon van Engeland, together with Dutch entrepreneur and scientist Egbert Smit; an experienced scientist-turned-entrepreneur who has been involved in building start-ups for over 15 years. With an MBA from Maastricht University Business School and a PhD in Molecular biology/biochemistry from the University of Amsterdam, Egbert and his team are on a mission to transform melanoma prognosis by translating scientific insights into tangible, life-changing solutions. The team has previously secured non-dilutive funding from EIT Headstart, LIOF’s Limburg Business Development Fund, the national MIT program, RVO and Rabobank.
MLA Diagnostics’ newly developed and patented DNA methylation-based molecular test technology helps pathologists in diagnostic labs by providing a more realistic prognosis based on the DNA taken from patient biopsies. A specific biomarker, namely LY75 gene promoter methylation is used to discriminate between low and high-risk disease, thereby providing more accurate information to guide clinicians in tailoring treatment intensity and ensuring precise and personalized patient care.
During their recent investment round – which has now closed – MLA Dx secured a strategic 7- figure investment. The investment was made by NLC Health Ventures (through its Momentum and the NLC Health Impact Fund), LIOF, and Brightlands Life Science Ventures. Together, all shareholders bolster MLA Dx’s mission to improve the narrative of melanoma care. The next step for MLA Dx is to externally validate their findings, a pivotal step in laying a foundation for future clinical trials.
About NLC Health Ventures, Momentum and HIF
NLC Health Ventures is the leading European early-stage healthcare investor and the world’s largest venture builder in healthtech. Pain monitoring systems, ultrasound cancer detection, and light therapy for newborns: these are just some of the life-changing inventions that we have brought to those in need. With its growing team of more than 80 professionals, 4 captive funds (of which Momentum and the NLC Health Impact Fund have invested in MLA Dx), and over 110 portfolio ventures built across 11 European countries, we bring science to life and make the early-stage investible.
About Brightlands Life Sciences Ventures
Brightlands Life Sciences Ventures (BLSV) is the venture fund of Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus B.V. and invests in spin-offs from Maastricht University and Maastricht University Medical Center.
LIOF is the regional development organization of the province of Limburg (Netherlands) and strengthens the economic structure and growth of Limburg. LIOF supports innovative entrepreneurs with advice, network, and financing. The Limburg Startup Capital Fund (LCSF) is managed by LIOF and is a fund for startups and innovative SMBs that have the potential to contribute to the most important societal transitions in the coming years: energy, circularity, healthcare, and digitization. The LCSF supports with two financial instruments the development of innovation from idea to market.
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Egbert Smit, CEO