Echopoint Medical Ltd, a spinout company from UCL, has raised £2.8m to develop optical sensing technology to help heart disease patients in a grey zone where the need for treatment is unclear.
Coronary heart disease is a major cause of death worldwide and more than 7 million* people have a diagnosis in the UK alone. Narrowing arteries caused by the disease are commonly treated by the insertion of tiny tubes called stents, but the process is both risky and expensive.
Current methods for determining whether to place a stent are inadequate. Dye-based imaging techniques deliver inconclusive results on the need for a stent for a large ‘grey zone’ of patients, many of whom undergo unnecessary invasive surgery as a result.
Echopoint has developed inexpensive microcatheters which use fibre-optic sensors to accurately measure blood pressure and flow, enabling clinicians to precisely assess patients and dramatically reduce stent implants.
Echopoint has raised its investment from the UCL Technology Fund, Parkwalk and two grants from Innovate UK. It will use the funding to further develop the optical fibre sensors on its microcatheters, as well as its unique technology platform which translates their ultrasound signals into meaningful metrics. The company will also complete a 20-30 patient clinical trial.
Echopoint was founded in November 2018 and is led by executive chairman Antony Odell, an experienced medtech entrepreneur and previous CEO of Tissue Regenix; Dr Adrien Desjardins, Chief Technical Officer and a senior lecturer in the Department of Medical Physics at UCL; and Dr Malcolm Finlay, Chief Medical Officer and a consultant cardiologist at Barts Heart Centre.
Dr Adrien Desjardins, Chief Technical Officer at Echopoint and a researcher at UCL Medical Physics & Biomedical Engineering, says: “Coronary heart disease is endemic worldwide but far too often the decision to implant a stent is based on sub-optimal information. Our technology addresses the ‘grey zone’ of patients where the requirement for a stent is currently difficult to determine. By using advanced optical sensing technology, we hope to significantly improve the accuracy of current treatments, saving healthcare costs and preventing unnecessary operations for patients that could be treated with medicines.”
David Grimm, Investment Director at AlbionVC, says: “Stents are an invaluable, cornerstone treatment but are risky to insert and not always the best course of action for a patient. Echopoint’s remarkable technology has the potential to transform heart disease diagnosis and treatment. We are very excited by the potential of their technology platform, which utilises the latest fibre optic sensing and imaging techniques borne out of UCL’s world leading academic research.”
Neil Cameron, Investment Director at Parkwalk comments: “Real time flow measurement will be a major addition to the clinician’s diagnostic arsenal and will differentiate Echopoint’s product offerings substantially from its nearest competitors. The ability to integrate this technology into existing clinical procedures made Echopoint a compelling investment opportunity for Parkwalk.”