A Newcastle company is aiming to transform organ transplant procedures across the world, aided by a £1.5m boost in funding to drive its pioneering technology.
ScubaTx Limited is a pioneering healthcare spin-out from Newcastle University and Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, whose prototype organ transportation device extends the time that human organs are viable for. The kit could ultimately revolutionise the global organ transplant system and ScubaTx is now looking to enhance its designs and develop its device following the funding, which includes investment led by the GMC Life Sciences Fund by Praetura and grant funding from Innovate UK.
ScubaTx is looking to obtain the permissions to sell its products worldwide, with a specific focus on the UK, US and mainland Europe – with an initial eye on pancreatic procedures for patients with diabetes. Founded in 2020, ScubaTx’s device taps into tech called ‘persufflation’ to deliver advanced organ preservation.
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It cools donated organs and oxygenating tissues with humidified gas at tightly controlled pressures and flow rates. The company is now finalising mechanical tests and expects to begin pre-clinical trials in the next few weeks and pivotal clinical trials in the next year.
Dr Bill Scott, chief scientific officer of ScubaTx and senior lecturer at Newcastle University in transplant and regenerative medicine, said: “I’m incredibly proud of the ScubaTx team and grateful to our investors for the opportunity to see this technology translate into clinical practice; positively impacting patient’s lives.”
The company has also announced plans to open an office in Greater Manchester as it looks to increase its UK footprint beyond the North East and continue its collaboration with several research organisations here in the UK, in mainland Europe and North America.
The round was led by GMC Life Sciences Fund by Praetura, a venture capital fund which invests in early-stage businesses and SMEs to boost life sciences innovation. The fund is also supported by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Cheshire & Warrington LEP and Bruntwood SciTech.
David Campbell, CEO of ScubaTx, said: “I’m incredibly excited about the future of ScubaTx. Securing funding from the GMC Life Sciences Fund by Praetura and Innovate UK will now allow us to finalise our first commercial product and continue with our mission to transform the lives of organ patients worldwide. The capability of ScubaTx’s technology, as well as the depth of experience within the team, is immense, and this is what is giving us our strongest platform for growth. We’re deeply committed to improving lives, and this shines through in the team’s effort – the investment will help transform that effort into life-saving actions.”
Dr Bill Scott of ScubaTx (Image: ScubaTx) Sim Singh-Landa, head of the GMC Life Sciences Fund by Praetura, said: “The strength of a fund like the GMC Life Sciences Fund by Praetura is that it enables the region to attract really inspiring businesses like ScubaTx, adding to the socio-economic prosperity of the local area and enabling the North West to continue cementing itself as a leader in life sciences. We can’t wait to work with the team and play a key role in their growth journey.”
Prof Derek Manas, an advisor to ScubaTx, who is the current medical director for NHS Blood and Transplant, professor of transplant and hepato-biliary surgery at Newcastle University and a consultant hepatobiliary and transplant surgeon and director of Newcastle’s Institute of Transplantation, also highlighted the potential impact of ScubaTx.
He said: “I have been involved with ScubaTx for a number of years now and have witnessed the company’s journey to this ground-breaking development, which I believe has the potential to revolutionise how we maintain and transport organs for transplantation. There is a critical shortage of healthy organs available for treating critically ill patients and I have high hopes that ScubaTx could play a major role in improving working practices and improve supply.”
The investment by the GMC Life Sciences Fund by Praetura was managed and completed by Jess Jackson (investment manager) and Stefano Smith (graduate investment associate), with support from Sim Singh-Landa (head of the GMC Life Sciences Fund by Praetura). Jordan Dargue, a director of NorthInvest, was also closely involved with the deal, with legal firms Irwin Mitchell and Ward Hadaway acting on behalf of Praetura Ventures and ScubaTx respectively.
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