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Wild week for Pacific Edge

By Holly Ryan

CEO David Darling didn't expect Pacific Edge's cancer testing product to go global so quickly.
CEO David Darling didn't expect Pacific Edge's cancer testing product to go global so quickly.

Pacific Edge chief executive David Darling is the first to admit even he didn't envisage his company's product - bladder cancer test Cxbladder - succeeding globally so quickly.

After a week that included signing two big deals with US medical companies, taking the supreme New Zealand Innovators award, and the share price doubling, Darling is "popping the champagne".

"When we started this project we were obviously hoping it would be adopted successfully in the early phases but we didn't expect to see this sort of ramping up in the share price."

Dunedin-based Pacific Edge was founded in 2001, and has since spent most of its time, and money, investing in research and development to create the cancer testing product, which was officially launched in July.

The initial success of the product means Pacific Edge is now scouting for further capital, announcing an entitlement offer on Wednesday for shareholders, at a rate of two new shares for every 15 previously held, to be sold at 55c each.

The company hopes to raise $20.5 million to continue the rollout of Cxbladder in the US with two other similar products, Cxbladder triage and Cxbladder predict, and further research on alternative cancer tests.

At first the company was looking at tests for five different cancers - bladder, gastric, colorectal, melanoma and endometrial.

"The long and short of it is that the bladder cancer test showed the most promising initial signs so we went with it," Darling said.

"The refinery process included an 18-month, $1.6 million clinical trial, before it was approved for use earlier this year."

Cxbladder is now in wide use throughout New Zealand and Australia and has been marketed as one-third the price of other testing methods, more accurate and less invasive.

The US deals helped to push Pacific Edge's shares up to a closing price of $1.58 on Thursday compared to 72c on Monday, a rise which Darling partly attributes to overseas investment following exposure in the Wall Street Journal.

The company's shares have since fallen back closing down 9c yesterday to $1.49.

"We've received reports of significant investment from the US and Asia, it's pretty great when you get that level of exposure, especially from the likes of the Wall Street Journal."

According to Darling, the next move for the company will be expanding into Asia and Europe.

The move is already underway with approval to sell in Spain, which has the highest rate of bladder cancer in the world.

- NZ Herald

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