Milestones aplenty as Sienna's cancer test goes global

Sienna Cancer Diagnostics thanks its existence to the scientists who were awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine.

These researchers discovered telomerase, an enzyme that plays an important role in helping cancer cells to spread.

This year, Sienna is celebrating its fifth anniversary of moving to Scoresby and recently the company launched its first product, which is a test for a biomarker called hTERT, a component of telomerase.

The test is performed on urine samples from patients being investigated for bladder cancer and can help physicians identify an increased likelihood that cancer is present, even at a very early stage.

More than 100,000 hTERT tests have been performed worldwide since the product’s launch.

Matthew Hoskin, Sienna’s CEO, said the hTERT test has been listed for In-Vitro Diagnostic (IVD) use with the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the United States and it has been CE marked and IVD-registered in Europe and Australia, which is helping it gain increased recognition globally.

“That is a significant achievement for a small Australian company with just 10 staff in the highly regulated medical device market.

“We have already launched the product through a network of distribution partners in the United States , Denmark, Switzerland and Sweden with new distributors added in the high growth regions of China, Korea and Singapore.”

This overseas success saw Sienna achieving nomination status at the 2018 Governor of Victoria Export Awards.

Tax incentive refund

An important enabler of Sienna’s research and development program is the Federal Government’s R&D Tax Incentive Program, whereby a rebate of 43.5% of eligible spend on R&D costs is paid back to the
company by the government. In 2018, Sienna received a refund of more than $630,000 as part of this program.

For small companies developing high tech medical products that take significant time to get to the market, this is a highly valuable source of funding, enabling new products to get to market and in turn generate economic growth in a strategically important industry sector.

Being located at the STC incubator is a great boost for Sienna with thesurrounding Caribbean Business Park becoming a hub for high-technology biomedical companies.

Companies in the cluster range from smaller companies such as Sienna, BlueChiip, Affinity BIO and Genera Biosystems, to mid-sized businesses such as MiniFAB and Medical Developments International, through to large multinationals like Thermo Fisher Scientific, Beckton Dickinson and Illumina.

So what does Sienna do well that sets it apart from others in the field? “Sienna is in rarefied air within the Australian biotech industry, having now successfully taken a product all the way through research, development, manufacturing, verification, validation, regulatory approval, reimbursement and market launch.

“We now want to leverage that capability and experience to get more highquality Aussie diagnostic technologies developed and launched, which will deliver economic growth for Australia, healthcare benefits to the community and value for shareholders.”


Article from May 2019 Edition Knox Business Life