Health Enterprise East (HEE), the NHS Innovation and Technology Consultancy, has licensed a pioneering endoscopic surgical device to Medovate, the medical device company, which will be responsible for bringing it to market. The new device, ENDOVAC, has the potential to dramatically improve survival of patients with life threatening infection following a leak from the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract whilst significantly enhancing current treatment methods.
Developed by a team led by Mr Andrew Hindmarsh, Consultant Oesophagogastric Surgeon at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and including researchers based at the University of Cambridge, ENDOVAC is also backed by a £1.2m grant from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), which has a number of regional specialist partners including HEE, the Hospital, the Cambridge Clinical Trials Unit and Suffolk-based JEB Technologies Ltd.
HEE has collaborated closely with ENDOVAC during the earliest phases of development, including filing the original patent application, sourcing proof of concept funding for early stage prototype development via the Medtech Accelerator and supporting the NIHR grant application. Medovate’s role will now be to attain regulatory approval and commercialise the technology, with a view to beginning clinical evaluation as early as 2021 and market launch thereafter.
HEE launched Medovate in February 2018 with investment capital worth £9m in order to boost the financial and technical support available to medtech innovators within the NHS. HEE annually reviews in excess of 150 early stage healthtech or medtech commercial opportunities: the most promising products are selected to receive additional funding and support from Medovate to ready them for a UK or international market launch.
ENDOVAC is designed to revolutionise the treatment of holes in the upper GI tract, a problem experienced by around 2,800 people in the UK each year. These holes may occur on their own; arise from problems such as stomach ulcers; or be caused through surgery or other medical interventions. The presence of a hole allows leakage of gastrointestinal contents into the body which quickly leads to infection – a serious medical emergency that can be fatal if not treated.
In the past, the standard treatment for these holes has been surgery, but this was often unsuccessful. More recently surgeons have developed an alternative treatment strategy for this problem called Endoluminal Vacuum Therapy (EVT). However, this treatment still requires multiple technically difficult procedures under general anaesthesia in an operating theatre.
ENDOVAC is a ground-breaking progression of EVT that allows easier delivery of treatment without the need for general anaesthesia, meaning the procedure does not need to be performed in an operating theatre. ENDOVAC makes EVT safer, quicker, easier and cheaper, and importantly is far less traumatic for patients. It will also enable patients to be mobile during treatment, unlike standard EVT, where patients are often confined to their hospital beds.
Tim Fishlock, Head of Technology Transfer at HEE, said: “ENDOVAC is an excellent example of the world-class innovation that can be generated by the NHS with the right support. With proper financial backing and access to technical expertise, clinicians’ innovative ideas to enhance patient care or deliver cost-savings are far more likely to become a reality. Having worked closely with the ENDOVAC team from the very beginning, it is incredibly rewarding to see their innovation reach the next stage in its development.”
Robert Donald, New Business Manager at Medovate, commented: “ENDOVAC is a natural addition to the Medovate portfolio of innovations in the fields of surgery, anaesthesia and intensive care. We are excited to be working with Mr Andrew Hindmarsh and his colleagues to bring such a ground-breaking product to market, and we fully expect to see ENDOVAC in use in our hospitals in the not-too-distant future.”