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.”
Dexcom: changing the lives of people with type 1 diabetes
It is estimated that 9.3% of adults around the world are living with type 1 diabetes, which amounts to a total of 463 million people. A further 1.1 million children and adolescents under the age of 20 are living with the condition.
Unlike the more prevalent type 2 diabetes, where the body still produces insulin and symptoms develop slowly, people with type 1 diabetes need regular insulin injections or pumps, and must monitor their sugar levels frequently.
In recent years a number of remote glucose monitoring systems have become available that patients can use at home. These work with a sensor, usually placed under the skin, that measures glucose levels every few minutes. This information is then transmitted wirelessly to a device like a smartphone or tablet, which can then be shared with their clinician.
British actress Nina Wadia's son Aidan, 14, has type 1 diabetes, and has been managing his condition using Dexcom, a glucose monitoring system used by patients all over the world. Here Wadia explains how Dexcom has improved their lives.
As a parent of someone with type 1 diabetes, what is your day-to-day life like?
Being able to take a breath, think and pivot constantly without getting frustrated becomes an essential mindset because sometimes it feels like each day is determined to be different from the day before. Whatever worked yesterday is going to misfire today.
Which areas of yours and Aidan’s life are most impacted by diabetes?
The one thing that you have to fight hard to reclaim is spontaneity, especially when it comes to food and exercise. It’s only when this is taken do you realise how essential each one is. You can be flexible and there are no real limits, but only in the sense that a great athlete can be flexible without limits because they’ve trained super hard to be that way. So we’ve all had to become athletes when it comes to being spontaneous.
How has Dexcom helped you and Aidan?
Dexcom has brought future science fiction to real life today. The continuous glucose monitoring system is tiny, sits discreetly on his body and gives him a ten-day breather between sensor changes, so it's goodbye finger-pricking seven times daily.
Dexcom is totally active at a grass roots level and for Diabetes Awareness has pledged to donate £2,000 if #DexcomDiabetesStories and/or #DexcomWarriorStories is shared 200 times! I’ll be sharing more on social media and would love to hear how other families are winning their fights.
Maybe most importantly Dexcom is trying to introduce a reimbursement programme for type 1 diabetes patients which will give greater access to modern, life changing hi-tech. I want to spread the word on the importance of accessing it through this campaign.
If you compared your life today with how it was before Aidan was using Dexcom, what has changed?
It's always working, which lets him take his mind off diabetes for longer stretches. It also lets me get off his back. We both receive alerts so I no longer have to pester him by asking him what his number is, and especially importantly, I don’t have to wake him at night to prick his finger if I’m worried. Dexcom gave us back our sleep!