MitaMed, an emerging Irish medical device company and ‘spin-out’ of University College Cork (UCC), has developed a groundbreaking treatment for gastrointestinal and lung cancers.

Treatment of patients with colorectal cancer has just commenced in an Irish Medicines Board approved clinical trial in Cork and Dublin hospitals, under the supervision of Dr Deirdre McNamara, Tallaght Hospital (AMNCH).

MitaMed has now established strategic partnerships with five specialist Cancer Centre of Excellence hospitals in Europe including Trinity Health (Tallaght/ St. James), Mercy Hospital, Cork, and hospitals in the UK and Sweden.

Chief Executive Officer of Mitamed, Michael Loftus, has also announced the commencement of an investment process to raise €3 million to support the development, regulatory approval and commercial sales of their innovative therapy. “With projected sales of €14 million in five years, MitaMed is on track to successfully deliver a new standard of care for cancer patients, with better outcomes and reduced financial burden”, says Loftus. 

Gastrointestinal and lung cancers have traditionally proved very challenging to treat and have a poor prognosis for survival. According to the American Cancer Society, the global economic impact of lung cancer is $188 billion, and colon/rectum cancer $99 billion per year.

MitaMed’s approach to cancer treatment involves delivering brief electric pulses directly to the tumour tissue, which causes the cancer cells within the electric field to become temporarily permeable and enables subsequent drug absorption. This phenomenon is known as electroporation and allows for the targeted absorption of a smaller dose of chemotherapy drugs (1-5% of normal dose) into cancer cells without compromising surrounding healthy tissue structures. As the electroporation procedure can be performed in a matter of minutes, the treatment can be conducted rapidly on an outpatient basis. A patient may require between 1 to 3 treatments over a period of a few months.

The current standards of care, which include surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, have significant limitations and side effects. They can also be prohibitively expensive and can have a negative impact on the quality of life of the patient. MitaMed’s therapy provides the opportunity for a minimally invasive, cost effective treatment for solid, internal cancers on an outpatient basis. It will contribute significantly to improving patient outcomes in terms of recovery, as well as pallitive care. This is good news for patients and healthcare service providers alike.

UCC leveraged over €2 million of Irish state research funding between 2006 and 2011 which was utilised to support the development of the technology at the Cork Cancer Research Centre, under the leadership of Dr Declan Soden. Commercialisation of the technology was driven by the UCC Technology Transfer Office.

Kevin Dalton, Commercialisation Specialist in UCC comments: “The progress of MitaMed since launching a year ago validates UCC’s strategy of supporting high potential start-ups that will go on to create high value jobs. Start-ups like MitaMed need to be successful for people to begin to truly believe in the potential benefits that an innovation ecosystem can deliver for Ireland, a kind of MedTech ‘Silicon Valley’ in this case”.

MitaMed has recently been named the Munster regional area winner (high growth category) in the InterTradeIreland Seedcorn competition. They hope to go one better and scoop first prize and a cheque for €100,000 in the final to be held at the Titanic Belfast conferencing facility on 28 November.