Walking with pharma giants: Diaceutics’ vision pays off

Belfast and Louth life sciences business Diaceutics has reported gross profits are up 52pc to £10.3m and it has taken on 49 new staff as demand for its data-driven diagnostic platform accelerates.

Exactly a year ago Diaceutics went public on the London Stock Exchange, raising £17m (€19.5m). One year in, it appears the risk paid off and the company was able to leverage the wherewithal to invest in its IP (intellectual property) and grow profits.

Diaceutics’ latest annual results show that gross profits went up 52pc in 2019, reaching £10.3m compared to £6.8m the previous year. Revenues, meanwhile, reached £13.4m. The company also now has net assets of £20.1m, significantly up from £2.6m the previous year.

“Somebody had to do this and that somebody is us”

The company, founded 14 years ago by Peter and Ryan Keeling, has emerged as the leading provider of precision-testing data and commercialisation services for the global pharmaceutical industry and in October 2020 will launch a new software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform with the working title ‘Nexus’ and representing the culmination of a £20m investment.

Diaceutics now provides data and services to 53 therapy brands in 41 markets and grew brand engagement 51pc in 2019 compared with 2018. Diaceutics’ data lake now contains more than 227M real-world patient records, covering 298 diseases in 35 countries.

The company now employs 111 people, including 49 new hires that were made in 2019.

Data leads to best medicine

Speaking with ThinkBusiness, CEO Peter Keeling said the strong results, and its first annual results as a publicly-listed company, reflected its statement of intent. “We did what we said we would do on the tin of the IPO: we continued to grow our business, we were laser-focused on that. I always said that when it came to walking beside the giants of pharma, they want to know that you are a reliable, robust business. It isn’t just growth, but for us it says that after 14 years we know how to rn a business, forecast a business and grow that business.

“We take that same lens to what we said we’d do over the past year – we created a more robust management structure internally and we’ve taken the time to get ready for scale.

“We are three-quarters of the way through our own digital transformation. It’s hugely exciting.”

For Keeling, it isn’t just the culmination of 14 years’ work, but ultimately it helps to fix what he regards as a broken diagnostics system.

“Everyone has been operating in their own silos and what we’ve created is a way to get drugs to patients faster. We’ve turned the battleship around and revolutionised diagnostics by creating a platform that joins up the silos and our conversations with our pharmaceutical clients is encouraging.

“Somebody had to do this and that somebody is us. It is not good enough that a lung cancer patient should have to wait four and half years to get onto a targeted drug programme, particularly when preparation would have made more of those patients get treatment faster. This is a big prize for patients getting access to the right drugs treatments.”

Trust and transparency

Diaceutics’ CFO Philip White explained that having efficient data has resulted in a considerable client bounce. “We built on the trust that we established with clients through our listing on the stock exchange. Janssen, for example, has the trust and transparency to deploy this to serve 700,000 patients in the US, the EU, China and Japan. Bayer is also deploying the platform for patients in 13 countries. All of that has been built off the trust and transparency that going public has enabled.”

When asked about whether there is a role for Diaceutics’ technology in light of the ongoing Coronavirus/Covid-19 epidemic, Keeling said that there was potentially a role. He said that the development of vaccines could be at least a year away and active treatments are the way forward.

“In China a lot of work has been done to identify those most likely to die and a lot of work has been done around inflammatory pathways, particularly for patients with diabetes, arthritis and cardiovascular issues,” Keeling said.

“They all have biomarkers. Interleukins, for example, play a role in helping people who are the sickest from cancer and these are biomarkers that we track and we are open to conversations with clients because here’s a lab landscape we can use to help improve and save lives.”

Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 16 March, 2020