NEW YORK – Danish startup GLX Analytix has reached a milestone in its quest to use an overlooked class of biomarkers to deliver new molecular tests to market, with an initial focus on chronic inflammatory diseases.
The Copenhagen-based company earlier this month announced a seed investment led by DigitalDx Ventures, a Menlo Park, California-based health-tech impact fund with a focus on using AI and big data to tackle global healthcare issues.
Other investors in the seed round, the amount of which was undisclosed, included Vaekstfonden, the Danish state's investment fund, and CBC Investment Group, a Gothenburg, Sweden-based venture capital investment firm.
GLX Analytix's technology is focused on assaying components of the glycocalyx, a fuzzy layer that covers the luminal surface of vascular endothelial cells. The glycocalyx is cleaved from the outer surface of blood vessels by immune cells in specific patterns, and by measuring those patterns, the company believes it can diagnose and monitor disease.
The company was founded to commercialize the technology in 2019 and is now preparing to scale up commercialization, both by building out its laboratory operations, as well as by offering kits that other customers can run in their own labs. The new funding will also help it to onboard new clients.
"This seed raise is a big deal for the company," said CEO Brian Della Valle, adding the funding will propel GLX Analytix to being a commercial entity. "We have an international syndicate of institutional investors with a large network and clout in our two target markets," he said. Investor DigitalDx in particular will "calibrate our strategy and commercial entrance into the US," he added.
More specifically, Della Valle said that the financing will help GLX to scale up its lab operations and data science activities and to produce its own antibodies, giving it control over the quality and performance of its test. "This also allows us to scale up, sell, and license the core technology of the test," he added. Della Valle said that GLX Analytix could be in a position to support the use of its technology by other labs by next year. Currently, it is providing access to its platform as a service to partners.
In terms of stepping into the US market, Della Valle said that GLX Analytix will "be focused on establishing new partnerships with clinicians and biotech companies interested in our biomarker product as a service."
GLX Analytix has described its technology in two publications to date, though others are in progress. The first appeared in Frontiers in Immunology in July 2018, in which the company's founders and Danish academic collaborators presented data showing that the cleavage of glycocalyx from the outer surface of blood vessels could be an early stage predictor of immune attack, blood-brain barrier breakdown, and disease severity in multiple sclerosis.
The second paper, published in the journal Stroke in August 2019, explored the same approach in patients suffering from ischemic stroke, assaying 11 components of the glycocalyx in a longitudinal cohort. To do this, they used commercial antibodies to target the components in blood, which were then imaged and analyzed individually. Since then, they have incorporated machine learning and have concluded that a full assessment of glycocalyx components could be more indicative of the health of an individual than relying on individual biomarkers.
The technology was developed in-house, Della Valle said. He added that GLX Analytix is currently using a custom Luminex immunoassay to carry out its test.
Since it was set up three years ago, GLX Analytix has built a small core team, including the addition of Asger Trier Bing, a serial entrepreneur and senior business unit manager focused on fintech at the Technical University of Denmark, who was named chairman of the company's board in January.
Della Valle said the company will use the proceeds from the seed investment to expand its headcount and to put together an advisory board in the US. Prior to the current round, the company had raised about $1 million in grant money from EIT Health, Innovation Fund Denmark, and a Roche Startup Award it received in 2019 and other initial seed investments.
GLX already has numerous collaborators, mostly in Scandinavia, including Copenhagen University Hospitals in Bispebjerg and Glostrup, as well as Rigshospitalet, the University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University, Aalborg University, Denmark's National Biobank, the Technical University of Denmark, and EIT Health Scandinavia.
In terms of areas of diagnostic interest, Della Valle said that GLX is currently focused on three verticals within neurodegeneration and autoimmunity. Specific indications of interest include Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, and inflammatory bowel disease. He said the company also has some "promising data" in psychiatric disorders and dementia.
Here, its new funding will help too.
"Currently, we are sourcing blood samples that are already taken," said Della Valle. "We will scale up the number of samples in each vertical," he said.
While partners can currently access GLX Analytix's technology as a service, by the end of this year, the company aims to be able to produce its own antibodies, which will enable it to potentially offer kits. "We are able to provide a service for research-use only purposes for all phases of clinical development, for example, testing for actionability of a new compound or intervention," said Della Valle.
As the firm's technology is based on using antibodies against a biomarker class, it can slot its approach into existing diagnostic workflows, he added, such as Roche's Cobas systems. Ultimately though, GLX Analytix would like to see its technology adopted at the point of care.
"We aim to bring GLX testing to the private home level, the clinics, and as a tool for accelerating improvements in healthcare through research," Della Valle said.
Indeed, Della Valle said that GLX Analytix is exploring potential partnerships for testing new, at-home devices for remote sampling.
"There are a number of technologies available for at-home and point-of-care testing and we are testing a number of them," commented Della Valle. "They are not part of our offering yet but we are keeping our eye on these technologies."
With one partner there will be a pilot for calibrating the lab performance in remote testing. "We aim to slot into the hospital flow and eventually bring our tests home," Della Valle said. He declined to name the partner but described it as a "company that provides well-known blood tests for private persons and companies."