NUI Galway spin-out AuriGen Medical raises €2.5m in funding

18 Jun 2018

From left: AuriGen Medical founders Tony O’Halloran (CTO) and Dr John Thompson (CEO) at their office in NUI Galway. Image: Aengus McMahon

AuriGen Medical will use its new funding to speed up commercialisation of a device to treat patients with an irregular heartbeat.

AuriGen Medical, an Irish medical device company based in Galway, has received €2.5m in the latest round of Horizon 2020 SME Instrument funding.

The programme receives applications from all over Europe and AuriGen Medical’s application came in first place out of 1,280 applicants across a broad array of industries.

Established by Tony O’Halloran (CTO) and Dr John Thompson (CEO), the company specialises in the treatment of patients with persistent atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) and is developing the first cardiac implant to treat both the stroke and heart failure risk linked to the condition.

AuriGen Medical impresses EU

An experienced medical device engineer and a former intensive-care physician, respectively, O’Halloran and Thompson met through the BioInnovate Ireland programme at NUI Galway, with Enterprise Ireland funding the development work through a commercialisation fund programme. The latter was funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under Ireland’s European Structural and Investment Funds 2014-2020 programme.

Approximately 10m patients across Europe deal with persistent atrial fibrillation and it is associated with direct healthcare costs running in the billions of euro per year. At present, more than 70pc of patients with atrial fibrillation have persistent symptoms, and current treatment options – including medications, cardioversion and ablation (a keyhole surgery procedure) – only address the minority of patients with intermittent disease.

AuriGen Medical believes its device could help the majority of patients become free from atrial fibrillation. The funding will be used to advance product development in preparation for the first human trials of the device in 2020.

How does the device work?

The 200,000 persistent atrial fibrillation patients per year who are having repeat ablations will be targeted initially. The device could deliver significant savings to healthcare providers, reducing the need for repeat ablations.

AuriGen Medical employs single-use sensors and software algorithms to give doctors feedback on the quality of an ablation, potentially increasing success rates and reducing procedure times. The technology is based on clinical data, underpinning the benefits of electrical isolation of the left atrial appendage.

O’Halloran said: “Our pre-clinical trials have been very encouraging and the feedback from cardiologists is extremely positive. We are delighted to announce this investment, which will help us make a number of key hires, further advance our product development and, once approved, make a positive impact on the lives of millions of atrial fibrillation patients across the world.”

Sean Burke, Horizon 2020 national contact point at Enterprise Ireland, said: “The SME Instrument phase 2 funding is complementary to Enterprise Ireland’s supports, which facilitate innovation as a driver of business growth and job creation. Our support of close-to-market projects gives companies a head start with fast access to funding and business innovation support.

“In the latest call results, 64 projects were funded within a budget of €110m and AuriGen Medical was ranked first amongst these.”

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects