New innovators: Embo Medical
Global peripheral vascular embolisation market could be worth about $500 million
Embo Medical co-founders Wayne Allen, Colin Forde and Liam Mullins. photograph: aengus mc mahon
Embolisation is a procedure that shuts down blood flow to a diseased vessel or organ. For example, stopping the blood flow to a tumour. Worldwide, there are about 200,000 embolisation procedures carried out each year and Galway-based medical devices start-up, Embo Medical, has developed a new, safer, and more cost-effective way of carrying out this procedure.
Called the Caterpillar, the device is aimed at the global peripheral vascular embolisation market which Embo Medical co-founder, Wayne Allen, says is growing and which is likely to be worth about $500 million within the next five years.
“Current practice is to use multiple coils, about the width of a strand of hair, to shut down the vessel. An average of nine coils are used per procedure,” Allen says. “There are two key issues with the use of coils: the coils can migrate away from the target vessel causing unintended blockages elsewhere in the body. Secondly, it takes five minutes to implant each coil. That’s an average of 45 minutes just to implant the coils. We have developed the first true one-shot vascular embolisation device and our technology provides a superior solution within a much shorter time.”
Embo Medical was set up in 2012 by Wayne Allen, Colin Forde and Liam Mullins. Allen has extensive experience at senior management level in the medical technology industry. He spent seven years in the US working for orthopaedic market leader Synthes Spine where he led the research, development and commercialisation of innovative spinal implant and instruments technologies.
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Prior to setting up Embo Medical, the co-founders participated in the first Enterprise Ireland-backed Bioinnovate Ireland Fellowship in 2011. This is an intensive 10-month medical innovation programme where participants spend a number of months observing surgeries and other procedures in hospitals.
Embo Medical has just raised €3 million in investment to further develop the product and bring it to market. The investment syndicate included the AIB Seed Capital Fund, Irrus Investments and the Halo Business Angel Network. The venture has also been supported by Enterprise Ireland under its high potential start-up fund.
Embo Medical, which is based in NUI Galway’s business innovation centre, employs eight people. They are primarily engineering graduates who are working on expanding the firm’s product pipeline and on preparing its approval submission to the Food and Drugs Administration in the US.
The Caterpillar will be made under contract in Galway where it is expected to support about 10 manufacturing jobs. The product will go on sale in 2016, initially in the US.