A spinout from Oxford’s Department of Engineering Science has raised £1 million from a high net worth Chinese investor to develop an imaging technology which could help doctors detect cancers, particularly prostate and liver tumours. Early diagnosis of cancer has been shown to save lives, and the Oxford technology will allow for improved visualization of tumours for earlier detection.
The company – Oxford Enhanced Medical Limited (OxEML) – has been set up with support from Isis Innovation, the University’s commercialisation company, based on technology invented by Professor David Edwards and Professor Chris Stevens. The investor, Mr Zhang was a VP of Hisun-Pfizer Pharma, China. He played a key role in building the company to over 2500 employees and revenues of $850M USD.
Professor Edwards said: “At the moment many doctors have limited access to expensive MRI diagnostic technology. Our approach would enable them to potentially identify and therefore treat common cancers earlier by bringing a new imaging and tissue characterisation technique to clinicians. Our aim with the OxEML technology is to improve patient care by providing clinicians with MRI-like information using more accessible, cheaper enhanced ultrasound instruments. This will allow earlier, cost-effective diagnosis, particularly for patients in remote areas without easy access to MRI services.
“The OxEML system uses electromagnetic and acoustic waves to create a new class of medical images at a cost comparable to ultrasound. For doctors, the enhanced images contain new information which should enable clinicians to more easily distinguish between normal and cancerous tissue. We anticipate that this new technology will be considerably cheaper both in terms of capital cost and running costs compared with MRI.”
OxEML CEO Amol Karnick said: “The OxEML system can also be used by physicians to improve biopsy targeting, making testing and treatment shorter and more effective, and to monitor patients to determine whether treatment is working.”
The investor, Mr Zhang said: “Oxford Enhanced Medical Limited directly addresses a global $13 billion medical imaging market and has the potential to be applied in several non-medical imaging applications. We are delighted to support and be a part of this exciting new venture from Oxford”.
Isis Innovation Deputy Head of Technology Transfer Dr Rakesh Roshan said: “We have been able to bring together a truly multinational group of partners and investors to accelerate the development of this very clever and promising technology.”
The diagnostic power of OxEML-equipped ultrasound machines will address an unmet clinical need and deliver overall treatment cost savings leading to widespread clinical adoption. OxEML will continue to work with its existing partner, Canada’s Centre for Imaging Technology Commercialization, to develop and test its ultrasound imaging technology.
OxEML holds patents which have been granted in several territories including US, China and Japan.