Norwich hospital spin-out Ablatus Therapeutics secures funding for cancer research

A Future50 firm targeting a breakthrough in cancer treatment has moved a step closer to developing life-saving treatment after completing a half-million pound funding round.

Ablatus Therapeutics is the first commercial spin-out from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, which has a stake in the company, and builds on research which identified a more efficient way to treat growths and tumours in patients.

Chief executive David Brooks said the money would allow Ablatus to re-engineer a prototype first developed in Norwich, in the hope of having it approved as a medical device and adopted across the NHS.

“This is an endorsement of the company, the management and the opportunity they see to bring this technology to market and improve patient outcomes,” he said.

The technology builds upon a technique called radiofrequency ablation, in which tumours and other growths are burnt away.

The new method – called BETA (bimodal electric tissue ablation) – uses DC current as well as AC current, which attracts moisture and reduces charring and dehydration in the tissue which can reduce the effectiveness of the treatment.

“It has some really good potential. Existing technology is limiting but BETA does have the potential to overcome those limitations,” said Mr Brooks. “The benefit is you can do bigger ablation surgery and treat large tumours with this.

“We will be using a technology that was developed at the hospital, bringing it along the development pathway and ultimately using it on patients.”

The funding was raised by angel investors from Anglia Capital Group, New Anglia LEP and the Low Carbon Innovation Fund, with help from Health Enterprise East.

Mr Brooks described Ablatus Therapeutics as being on a journey and, while it was still a way from placing the technology in hospitals, “we have enough gas in the tank to get us to the next filling station”, he said.

Chris Dashper, head of programmes at New Anglia LEP, said: “The New Anglia Capital fund was set up to kick-start new products and innovation and support high-growth companies, and Ablatus meets its aims perfectly.

“This is an example of leading-edge technology that’s being developed right here in the East, providing a breakthrough in cancer treatment with worldwide benefits, and we’re delighted to be part of it.”

Struan McDougall, chief executive of Anglia Capital Group, said: “Anglia Capital Group is delighted to have had the opportunity to work with Health Enterprise East on the first spin-out from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.”