In 2001, Professor Nagy Habib formed a spin out company, EMcision Limited, from Imperial College London Innovations. The company was funded by a small DTI grant arranged by Innovations to develop medical devices powered with radiofrequency energy to provide additional treatment options for patients with liver and pancreatic cancer.
In 2005, with collaboration from the Department of Engineering at Imperial College London, the first device, the HabibTM 4X, was launched and approved for use by the FDA and was awarded a European CE mark. The HabibTM 4X is bipolar radiofrequency surgical tool that provides near bloodless resection during liver and pancreas surgery. The device provides a superior method of performing liver surgery because it leads to a decrease in blood loss, a decrease in blood transfusion requirement, a decrease in tumour recurrence and improved survival.1 The technique allows the patient to be recovered in the ward rather than ICU which is a cost and resource saving measure. Imperial College Healthcare Trust was an early adopter of the device and Professor Habib believes that the device is a major contributory factor to Imperial College Healthcare Trust providing the best 1 year, 5 year and 10 year survival in England for patients with liver and pancreatic cancer and that a higher percentage of patients in Trust have surgery as a first treatment (the gold standard of HPB care) than other Trusts in England.
The device was subsequently acquired by Rita Medical (now AngioDynamics Inc) under an exclusive licence. 70,000 units have been sold worldwide. This income has provided the company the opportunity to develop other devices.
Another medical problem that Professor Habib and the engineers wanted to tackle was palliation of patients with pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is a miserable disease and accounts for nearly a million deaths annually worldwide with limited treatment options.2 While an early diagnosis improves the likelihood that a patient can meet the criteria for surgical removal of a tumour,3 currently only 40 percent of patients with cholangiocarcinoma and 20 percent of patients with pancreatic cancer are candidates for surgery at the time of presentation.4,5
So, the HabibTM EndoHPB, a bipolar radiofrequency endoscopic probe was developed. The probe is inserted at the same time as the patient has a biliary stent placed and radiofrequency energy is applied to palliate the tumour. The device was pioneered by the Endoscopic Department at Hammersmith Hospital in a non-randomised clinical trial. The results showed not only safety and ease of use of the device, but suggested that it improved survival. More recently a randomised controlled trial in patients with cholangiocarcinoma confirmed the Hammersmith’s findings that the EndoHPB does significantly improve survival.6
In March 2018, Boston Scientific acquired EMcision Limited to market the HabibTM EndoHPB more effectively. Boston Scientific is a leading developer and marketer of medical devices with a worldwide salesforce and recognised the potential of the probe. This partnership will mean that the products developed at Imperial College London and first used at the Trust will be available to a much larger number of patients.