Institute of Genetics and Cancer

Spinout BioCaptiva launched to unlock cancer detection through liquid biopsy

A spinout from the Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine targets the early diagnosis of difficult-to-detect cancers with a new blood-based biopsy device.

Professor Tim Aitman

The University of Edinburgh spin-out has raised over £1m in seed funding from Edinburgh-based business angel investment syndicate, Archangels, and Scottish Enterprise, to help develop the technology.

BioCaptiva has developed a medical device that captures cfDNA (circulating free DNA) from the blood of patients in much greater quantities than the current standard of a single blood draw can, overcoming a significant current limitation of cancer liquid biopsy testing.  Named BioCollector, it works alongside a standard apheresis machine, filtering cfDNA from the patient’s blood system.

The BioCollector is based on a decade of research led by Professor Tim Aitman, Director of the Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine, and Professor Mark Bradley of the University’s School of Chemistry. Both researchers are co-founders and directors of the new company.

Prototype testing shows that the device has the potential to detect early-stage cancers in patients without the need for surgical biopsy. It could also pave the way for new approaches to disease monitoring, resulting in better outcomes for patients.

The seed investment will enable BioCaptiva to carry out its first trials to prove its safe use in humans. Should the technology prove successful, BioCaptiva plans to scale up its technology ahead of regulatory clinical trials, scheduled for completion during 2024.

A recent report estimates that the global liquid biopsy market could be worth more than $6 billion by 2025.


​​​​​​​I'm delighted that after several years of work with colleagues in Edinburgh, we will now progress towards first-in-human trials. BioCollector will provide a step change in the capabilities of liquid biopsy for cancer detection and diagnosis. We are excited to be moving our device into this market with its huge potential for advances in the care of patients with cancer.

Professor Tim Aitman



Prof Tim Aitman's Research Group