MI:RNA Diagnostics revolutionizes early diagnosis in animals

Animal diseases have significant impacts on both animals and humans. They can affect the health and well-being of individual animals, as well as have broader implications for ecosystems, agriculture, public health, and the economy. According to estimates from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), animal disease-related morbidity and death account for at least 20% of the global loss in livestock productivity. This amounts to a minimum of 150 million milk and 60 million beef tons, with an approximate annual worth of $300 billion.

MI:RNA and Strata are collaborating in MI:RNA’s acquisition of non-dilutive funding.

MI:RNA Diagnostics has created a cutting-edge early illness detection system for the veterinary industry that uses blood sample analysis and microRNA biomarkers to precisely determine whether a disease is present. 

They have taken a real precision medicine approach by merging this technique with an AI learning model to facilitate interpretation. Their goal is to prevent sickness by means of innovation and research to have a positive impact on the environment, economy, public health, and ethics.

Eve Hanks, MI:RNA CEO and Co-Founder, explained to us what it’s like to be a solo founder and how MI:RNA was created.

What’s the story behind MI:RNA?

Dr Hanks has been a vet surgeon for 12 years. She obtained a certificate in medicine and a PhD in immunology, later becoming a clinical pathologist. 

“Clinical pathology was a really good space for me, it was really interesting. It was at that point I realized that with the knowledge I had from being in practice alongside the information about science from my PhD, I’d be able to put that together and create a new diagnostic testing company. And that’s how MI:RNA started” explained Dr Hanks.

Presently, what are your most promising projects?

“Our main project is focused on cattle disease, and we are driven by the cascade of benefits we can get from diagnosing these endemic diseases in farms.  There is no solution for diagnosis and there’s definitely no prediction for which animal is going to get ill and which one is going to resist the illness, so we are working on building a diagnostic test. It’s more of a grading of how effective cows’ endemic system could be against certain diseases. We’ve got 8 billion people to feed but we want to look after the animals, so the two go together, and then we also protect consumer safety by removing some of these diseases and protect the environment. Gas emissions are a huge problem, as well as endemic diseases, which are those diseases we can’t eradicate or control, so these are our two big areas” expressed Dr Hanks.

How do you see the industry?

Healthtech and Medtech have massive benefits, which is due to the rise of AI, microengineering and the discovery of new biomarkers that can be used for disease and new therapies. 

“In the case of Agritech, it drives towards carbon neutral agendas, so there are lots of working policies and incentives from the government for us to improve the situation of agriculture, and that’s accelerating innovation even more. Pettech is more of an open spot in terms of opportunities: the reactive medicine of the past isn’t good enough and early detection of disease and prevention is really important in general, so it’s an acceleration in terms of market pressure for us as vets” stated Dr Hanks.

How do you envision your company within the next 5 or 10 years?

The 5-year plan is pretty clear as MI:RNA has a strong research, IP and development stream:

“I imagine this technology in 5-10 years to be generally available to the public, I think it will also be available in human use, not necessarily through my company, but the use of AI for disease and diagnosis would be used across all of the healthtech sectors including humans” said Dr Hanks.

What has been the most difficult part of the journey?

It’s tough for a founder to get staff on board. Proving your concept without the money to do it is a challenge, according to Dr Hanks.

“It’s a brand-new technology, I don’t expect people to throw millions of dollars this way. There are a couple of challenges around that, and time pressures are heavy, so we have to decide if some decisions are beneficial or worth the time. It can be a little uncomfortable making decisions for the good resources, but the benefit of that means that we are a really close team, that we really love working together, that we really have a lot of sense of values and purpose and a really clear vision around what we are doing that gets you over the most difficult part I think” explained Dr Hanks.

How did you meet Strata? How would you describe this collaboration?

Applying for the EIC funding was a good exercise for MI:RNA to do as a team, to have a look and drill into exactly how they expect this particular product for the Agritech space. It also allowed them to make a lot of good contacts in Europe. 

“It was very demanding in terms of time, but once we had the application, we could dive into that and change it and adapt it as we go for other types of funding, and we got really good feedback from the assessment panel of the EIC in terms of maturing our market strategy. I think overall it was a beneficial thing to do,” said Dr Hanks.

Strata and MI:RNA were introduced by a mutual contact.

“Strata had experience with the EIC, so we contacted them. The work is a reciprocal form of information, which is very important because our technology is super complex, but it’s important for the EIC to break it down into constituent parts to make it really obvious in terms of what we are trying to do, what problem we are trying to solve, so I think Strata really helped us with that, to frame the problem, to identify clearly the solution, and then to prioritize the parts that were most important to talk about” concluded Dr Hanks.

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