New University of Bath spin-out launches to improve lung cancer diagnosis and treatment

The optical fibre fabrication process
The optical fibre fabrication process

A new spin-out company from the Universities of Bath and Edinburgh has launched with a mission to enable lung cancer biopsy and treatment in a single visit.

  • Published on Wednesday 10 April 2024
  • Last updated on Thursday 11 April 2024

Prothea Technologies , a new spin-out company from the Universities of Bath and Edinburgh, has launched with a mission to enable lung cancer biopsy and treatment in a single visit.

The firm has attracted 12M (10.3M) of investment as it seeks to develop a medical device to quickly diagnose lung cancer lesions using a combined endoscope and image-processing system capable of examining the molecular structure of lung lesions. The team also wants to develop a laser-ablation catheter to treat lesions immediately after diagnosis, reducing time-to-treatment from weeks to minutes, relieving hospital pressures and improving patient outcomes.

Prothea Technologies combines extensive optical-fibre research expertise and intellectual property established at Bath, with medical and clinical expertise from the University of Edinburgh.

Dr Jim Stone from the Department of Physics at Bath will be Prothea’s chief technical officer. He said: "Establishing Prothea Technologies is essential to bring our unique fibre optic technology into clinic so it can benefit patients.

"Prothea pulls together world-leading fibre-optic development from the University of Bath and clinical excellence from the University of Edinburgh, adding in commercial, insight, expertise and know-how to form a fantastic team.

"I’d like to thank everyone who has played their part to get us this far - our investors Earlybird Venture Capital and Merieux Equity Partners, with participation from NRW.BANK and Old College Capital. I’d also like to particularly thank the EPSRC (the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council), which funded significant academic research programmes and industrially focused grants."

Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer and is the world’s deadliest form of cancer, responsible for more than two-million deaths per year. With its planned devices, the firm aims to tackle two challenges in the management of the disease: inaccurate biopsies and limited treatment options for small lesions in the lungs.

The funding raised will finance the company’s first-in-human clinical trials for the real-time imaging and biopsy device, and move towards beginning trials for the laser ablation catheter.

The Company is led by chief executive officer and executive chair Crispin Simon - formerly president of the endoscopy division of the medical technology company Smith+Nephew - and Dr Kev Dhaliwal, professor of molecular imaging and healthcare technology and consultant in respiratory medicine at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

Mr Simon said: "We’re delighted to have been able to combine a great team, multiple technology innovations and a strong investment syndicate, and look forward to putting our products at the service of doctors and their patients."

Professor Kev Dhaliwal, chief medical officer and chief scientific officer at Prothea, said: "Molecular-level data capture, combined with immediate therapy, holds huge potential in basic science and patient therapy. I’m grateful to the funders who have backed us over the years."

The University of Bath’s EPSRC-funded Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) contributed to the technology development funding for Prothea Technologies which was spun-out with support from Research and Innovation Services (RIS) at the University of Bath.