Inventor(s): Dr John Cockburn, Dr Donald Cockburn and Dr Simon Wemyss-Holden
Member Trust: Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Key benefits to technology:

  • BETA is a novel tissue ablation technology that addresses significant performance limitations of Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA).
  • Can treat previously inoperable tumours and reduce the risk of tumour recurrence.
  • Increases ablation zone in vivo by 420% relative to standard RFA and has improved conductance to reduce charring and tissue excoriation.

Technology Summary:

Conventional solid tumours have traditionally been treated by surgical resection, systemic chemotherapy and/or local radiation therapy. However, in the past decade, there has been a trend towards the use of energy based ablation techniques as a minimally invasive alternative to surgery. This global ablation market was valued at $8billion in 2016, with up to 40% of the market being in oncology. Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is the most prevalent ablation technology and uses alternating current (AC) to generate RF energy that heats and destroys tissue. However, RFA causes tissues to dry out, leading to charring that increases impedance. This in turn limits the size of the ablation zone, restricting the use of RFA to smaller tumours. Charring also causes tissue excoriation on needle withdrawal, potentially seeding healthy tissue with cancerous cells.

BETA addresses the shortfalls of RFA by including a DC component along with the traditional RF-generating AC component. The DC component induces the process of electroendosmosis, which keeps the ablation zone hydrated, increasing the ablation zone in vivo by 420% as well as improving conductance reducing charring and tissue excoriation.

BETA was spun out of Norfolk and Norwich NHS Foundation Trust in July 2016 as Ablatus Therapeutics Ltd raising £0.5million of external funding to develop BETA as a medical device ready for market. Prior to incorporation, HEE invested in the technology through its own proof of concept award to protect the technology, develop a prototype BETA device that has been used to generate significant evaluation data, including in vivo studies.