Summary of the impact
ProAxsis Ltd. was founded by Professor Lorraine Martin (CEO) and Professor Brian Walker (CSO) in 2013 as a spin-out from the School of Pharmacy, QUB and is an excellent example of a programme of work transitioning from proof of concept to full commercialisation. From incorporation, the company rapidly met several significant milestones, from winning the NISP CONNECT 25K competition in 2013 (now INVENT, Catalyst Inc.), to acquiring external investment and a Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Award in 2014. In July 2015, the company successfully launched its first lab-based product and in October 2015, a commercial full-time CEO, Dr David Ribeiro was appointed. In August 2016, ProAxsis completed the spin-out process by acquiring purpose-built premises in Concourse III of Catalyst Inc.
The company develops novel biomarker assays utilising a patented ProteaseTag® technology which allows for the measurement of active proteases in chronic diseases, in the first instance chronic airways diseases. CE-marked products include activity-based immunoassays targeting Neutrophil Elastase (NE) and Proteinase 3, as biomarkers of lung infection and inflammation in COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), cystic fibrosis and bronchiectasis. These assays are suitable for use in research labs with a further test, NEATstik® available in a lateral flow format for use at a point of care; published data has shown that measuring active NE levels using NEATstik® enables identification of patients with airway bacterial infection and discerns patients at highest risk of suffering pulmonary exacerbations over the subsequent 12 months. The company also provides a number of clinical services to support pharmaceutical validation studies and drug trials and has established a rapidly growing global client list.
Professor Martin was awarded the highly competitive Vice-Chancellor's Prize for Research Impact in November 2016, in recognition of the success and impact of her commercialisation and innovation activities. In May 2018, ProAxsis was announced as Innovative Business of the Year at the Business Eye First Trust Awards (BEFTAs) for small businesses in Northern Ireland. In November 2020, ProAxsis was fully acquired by the existing investor, NetScientific plc.