The Netherlands


Cutaneous melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer with a rapidly increasing incidence rate. Worldwide in 2018 there were close to 290,000 new cases and 60,000 deaths. Currently patients are treated on the basis of disease prognosis, where prognosis is based on factors such as thickness of mole and family history of disease. These markers are not completely reliable and often patients are either overtreated: meaning they follow unnecessary surveillance programs and experience unrest due to perceived risk of cancer progression; or undertreated meaning that the cancer progresses undetected at a fast rate (2 out of 3 patients who metastasize received a negative outcome from Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy (SLNB).


With a growing incidence the melanoma therapeutics market is expected to quadruple by 2023. MLA Diagnostics will initially focus on follow-on analysis of SLNB-negative patients. Large future growth is expected with replacement of SLNB and could generate revenues of over €14 million by 2026.


Methylation of the promoter of lymphocyte antigen 75 (LY75), also known as CD-205 or DEC-205, is a strong marker that predicts poor clinical outcome, independent of the currently used prognostic markers in an independent melanoma series. A test based on a patient’s own sample can thus determine if a patient has a poor prognosis. By determining a patient’s expected outcome, through a simple test performed by the pathologists, a different course of treatment (either more or less intensive) can be chosen.


The LY75 biomarker has been validated on 123 primary melanomas in a patient series in Maastricht, and a subsequent independent analysis in TCGA data in 44 primary melanomas. Further validation in a number of independent series is currently underway. Patents have been granted for the innovation in the EU and US.

Meet the team


Manon van Engeland



Egbert Smit



Kathrin Ballesteros

Venture Partner at NLC

Kathrin joined NLC in October 2021. She has more than 20 years of experience supporting Startups – mainly in the Life Science business – in different positions as a consultant and coach. Kathrin is a biochemist and holds a PhD in Molecular Neurobiochemistry. Besides her scientific background, she is also trained as a Business Coach, Team Coach & Team Developer and has a Micro master’s in Business Model Innovation. Kathrin brings expertise in supporting early-stage scientific and entrepreneurial projects turning into valuable businesses.