Next-generation tumour treatment wins £1.4m funding
Medical device company Ablatus Therapeutics has been awarded £1.4 million in funding from the UK government's Innovate UK to develop a groundbreaking new type of treatment for tumours. The new energy-based tool has the potential to treat previously untreatable tumours.
The Ablatus device uses an alternative to conventional open surgery called Bimodal Electric Tissue Ablation (BETA), removing the need for major surgery.
The technique of tumor ablation is minimally invasive and is typically used to remove tumours in the liver, lungs, bones and kidneys by either freezing or 'burning' them, by exposing them to temperatures over 60°C. Laser, ultrasound and radiofrequencies are among the processes used.
BETA employs Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA), which uses electrical current to generate energy. This heats tissue while drawing water from surrounding tissues, preventing it from dessicating - something which usually limits heat conductivity. This could mean treating tumours previously thought inoperable.
Its creators say it has a wide range of surgical applications in growing markets including cancer and non-cancer treatments. Due to BETA’s unique features, it has the potential to treat patients not currently offered traditional ablation treatment, in a shorter time frame, and with better clinical outcomes.
Ablatus was founded in 2015 at Norfolk & Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, with support from the NHS innovation hub Health Enterprise East (HEE) and £125,000 of essential funding granted by The MedTech Accelerator, the joint funding venture led by HEE.
In the five years since it's been named in the ‘21towatch’ list, representing the most innovative companies across Cambridge and the East of England that are on the path to becoming industry game-changers locally, nationally and globally.
The grant from Innovate UK will fund a two-year project, with the aim of finalising the device ready to be launched on the market. Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge and various local tech specialists have been working with Ablatus to gather clinical data to acquire the CE mark needed for commercial sale.
Commenting on the grant, Chief Medical Officer and Interim CEO of Ablatus Therapeutics , Dr Natalie Hayes, said: “This is an enormous opportunity for Ablatus to build on the important work we have already done to complete development of what will be a game-changing treatment for patients with tumours. We are especially pleased to be able to bring this exciting new technology to local patients here in Cambridge, when we start our first clinical study in Addenbrooke’s Hospital.”
NHS trials test that predicts sepsis 3 days in advance
A new test that can predict sepsis before the patient develops symptoms is being trialled at a National Health Service (NHS) hospital in the south of England.
Clinicians at Portsmouth’s Queen Alexandra Hospital are leading medical trials of the blood test, which they hope will help them save thousands of lives a year.
The test is being developed by government spin-out company Presymptom Health, but the research began over 10 years ago at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl). This included a study of 4,385 patients and more than 70,000 samples, the largest study of its kind at the time.
From the samples taken, a clinical biobank and database were generated and then mined using machine learning to identify biomarker signatures that could predict the onset of sepsis. The researchers found they were able to provide an early warning of sepsis up to three days ahead of illness with an accuracy of up to 90%.
Unlike most other tests, Presymptom Health identifies the patient’s response to the disease as opposed to detecting the pathogen. This is an important differentiator, as sepsis occurs as a result of the patient's immune system’s overreaction to an infection or injury, which can then cause life-threatening organ dysfunction.
Worldwide, an estimated 49 million people a year contract sepsis, while in the UK almost two million patients admitted to hospital each year are thought to be at risk of developing the condition. If Presymptom's test is effective, it could save billions of pounds globally and improve clinical outcomes for millions of sepsis patients.
The initial trials at Queen Alexandra Hospital will last 12 months, with two other sites planned to go live this summer. Up to 600 patients admitted to hospital with respiratory tract infections will be given the option to participate in the trial. The data collected will be independently assessed and used to refine and validate the test, which could be available for broader NHS use within two years.
If successful, this test could also identify sepsis arising from other infections before symptoms appear, which could potentially include future waves of COVID-19 and other pandemics.
Dr Roman Lukaszewski, the lead Dstl scientist behind the innovation, said: “It is incredible to see this test, which we had originally begun to develop to help service personnel survive injury and infection on the front line, is now being used for the wider UK population, including those fighting COVID-19.”