Microvisk Technologies has scooped the Healthcare Project of the Year Award at the prestigious BioNoW Biomedical Awards, which showcase the leading biomedical companies in the north west of England.
The Healthcare Award comes as Microvisk marks the highly successful introduction of its handheld devices which monitor the blood clotting status of patients at Medica, the world’s leading medical trade fair which attracts over 137,000 visitors, ahead of product launches during 2012.
Microvisk has developed a ‘CoagMax®’ device as a point of care test for clinicians and a ‘CoagLite®’ device as a home use test for patients, which can both be used to establish the correct dosage of anti-coagulation medication such as Warfarin and to monitor treatment.
The CoagMax® and CoagLite® devices attracted unprecedented demand at Medica with distributors and potential partners queuing at the Microvisk exhibition stand.
European clinical trials of CoagMax and CoagLite are progressing in the UK and Germany with product launches in both countries scheduled for early 2012. Clinical trials are also ongoing in major medical centres in Florida with US product launches scheduled for mid-2012. During the pilot trials, nine out of ten patients have expressed a preference for the Microvisk devices.
The devices incorporate a unique SmartStrip® that uses embedded sensors to measure blood clotting speed from a drop of patient’s blood taken by finger prick, and a handheld reader displays the results. SmartStrip is the world’s first medical diagnostic strip based on a Micro-Electro-Mechanical System (MEMS), incorporating a cantilever to measure fluid viscosity with an on-board memory chip, and was created as a movement system for nano-robots. MEMS technology is used in technology based applications such as projectors, the iPhone and Nintendo Wii.
Existing devices for measuring blood coagulation use optical analysis or measure chemical reactions, requiring patients to provide more blood which is more painful and producing less accurate results.
Only three companies have developed a blood coagulation testing system that can be used in a doctor’s surgery and although certified for home use, market research shows that doctors feel that they are insufficiently robust and too complex for home use.
Judges at the BioNow Healthcare Awards singled out Microvisk for its breakthrough achievement in developing robust devices that deliver laboratory accuracy in the Prothrombin Time or INR test, the international test for management of Warfarin dosage, and which are easy for clinicians to use in medical centres or remotely and for patients to use at home.
TRUSTECH, the NHS innovations hub for the north west, has facilitated the introduction of Microvisk to Professor Cheng-Hok Toh, consultant haematologist and centre director of the Roald Dahl haemostatis and thrombosis centre at The Royal Liverpool University Hospital, which is now one of the centres where the devices are being trialled.
John Curtis, chief executive officer of Microvisk, said: "We are delighted to have been honoured with the BioNow Healthcare Project of the Year Award – this accolade marks a fitting end to a year of hard work and achievement by our staff.
"I would like to thank TRUSTECH for their support in facilitating the link to The Royal Liverpool University Hospital, which has been invaluable. We continue to work closely with Prof Toh and his team to fine tune our systems and in the near future will validate the products with them for our CE mark validation studies.
"We were also delighted at the overwhelming demand from distributors and potential partners at Medica for our CoagMax® and CoagLite® devices. We are currently making excellent progress in patient trials and as we enter 2012, we will be ramping up for product launches in the UK and Germany to be followed by US product launches later in the year."
Dr Richard Deed, innovation unit manager at TRUSTECH, said: "The Microvisk devices are a superb example of the development of better products through collaboration between companies and the NHS.
"Microvisk’s devices will provide a better outcome for patients who will be able to test their blood clotting ability at home instead of making weekly trips to the hospital or doctor’s clinic, as well as generating significant cost savings for healthcare systems."
Seven million people in the western world use Warfarin and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that over one million new patients start taking the drug every year. Patients must have regular blood tests at their doctor’s surgery or hospital clinic to ensure they receive the correct dose. Warfarin is affected by food and exercise and if the dose is too low there is a risk of blood clots forming which can result in a stroke or heart attack, while too high a dose can lead to a life threatening bleed.
The Microvisk devices enable patients to test their blood clotting ability at home, in the same way that people with diabetes test for glucose.
John Curtis added: "We have a huge market opportunity in the US and Germany, where payments have been introduced for all at-risk Warfarin users to do weekly home blood tests, rather than having to go to the doctor or hospital clinic."
The Microvisk SmartStrip® is unique in the blood clotting diagnostic world as a solid state system that is robust and simple to use at home. It requires far less blood than other systems, which means less pain for the user. The coagulation status (clotting speed) of the patient is measured by tiny multi-layered paddles on the surface of the strip and a memory chip ensures the device is calibrated to provide the highest levels of accuracy, while the MEMS technology means that high volumes of the device can be manufactured at low cost.