Dr Boreham’s Crucible: Cleo Diagnostics

Small Caps | Aug 30 2023

ASX code: ((COV))

Shares on issue: 128,500,001

Market cap: $25.7m

Chief executive officer: Dr Richard Allman

Board: Adrien Wing (chair), Dr Allman, Dr Andrew Stephens, Prof Tom Jobling, Lucinda Nolan

Financials (December half 2023): income $5,386, loss -$421,412

Major shareholders: Wing Investment Holdings (Adrien and Michelle) 11.09%, Loumea Investments (Richard Vom) 7.10%, Hudson Institute of Medical Research 5.84%.

By Tim Boreham

For all the advances in cancer diagnostics, some iterations of the cheeky disease continue to evade accurate forms of detection.

That is certainly the case with ovarian cancer, the seventh-most prevalent cancer and with one of the highest mortality rates.

Because a pap smear does not pick up ovarian tumors, there is no early detection test. The diagnosis is made at the time of surgical ovary removal - which obviously is less than ideal.

Enter Cleo Diagnostics, which debuted on the ASX on Tuesday this week, having raised $12m.

The funds are earmarked to support the commercialisation of up to three diagnostic tools, starting with an application to the US Food and Drug Administration for a triaging tool (see below).

“There is no accurate pre-surgical method to diagnose ovarian cancer or to accurately differentiate between cancerous [tissues], versus the much more common benign disease,” says Cleo chief executive Dr Richard Allman.

“This is simply not good enough.”

Cleo hopes to succeed where many an ovarian diagnostics developers have stumbled.

“Ovarian cancer has been a hard area to be in. The number of scientific discoveries has been small in the past 20 to 40 years,” Dr Allman says.

“But we wouldn’t risk doing an IPO in the current climate if our story wasn’t strong.”

About ovarian cancer

It is estimated 445,700 women globally will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer annually by 2040, a 42% increase on 2020. According to Cancer Australia, the current Australian incidence is 11 in 100,000 women.

Ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest cancers because it tends to be undetected until the advanced stages.

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