Bowel cancer is the third most frequent cancer and the second most deadly form of cancer. In Denmark, the risk of getting bowel cancer is 3.4% for men and 2.8% for women under 75 years. The treatment is a surgical procedure where the intestinal segment with the tumor is removed and the two healthy ends of the intestine are stitched together again. In some cases, this stitching (also called anastomosis) does not always last, and an anastomosis leak occurs shortly after surgery, which at worst can have fatal consequences for the patient. For example, anastomosis leaks may occur due to decreased blood supply to the healthy bowel ends that are stitched together.

The goal is to reduce the risk of anastomosis leakage by significantly improving the surgeon’s decision. Lower complication rates will lead to fewer hospitalization days and postoperative complications, which will save hospitals a significant amount of expenses and increase patients’ quality of life. Perfusion Tech develops their product in close collaboration with surgeons from several sites in Denmark. Perfusion Tech owns all IP and expects to be CE marked by 2020. The team behind Perfusion Tech has crucial experience in the intersection of physics and medicine as well as all aspects of entrepreneurship including start-up and sale of several medico companies, which includes CAPNOVA’s former portfolio company Action Pharma A/S (sold to Abbott for USD 110 million).

Perfusion Tech has developed a software that provides objective targets for perfusion near the anastomosis. Today, surgeons also carefully evaluate the blood supply of the bowel ends, but the methods available are subjective and vary from surgeon to surgeon. By applying advanced Computer Vision analysis directly to the live operating images, Perfusion Tech’s software quantifies the blood supply in minutes. An objective measure of intestinal blood supply allows the surgeon to choose the best place to cut and stitch the intestine back together to ensure a good healing process. The underlying physical phenomenon utilized is fluorescence: small molecules are injected into the patient while a laser glows on the intestinal segment. The laser light excites the molecules, which soon after begins to fluoresce. This fluorescent light is absorbed by a camera and can then be analyzed by Perfusion Tech’s software. As the light is emitted from molecules transported by the blood, metrics can be derived for how quickly the blood is replaced in a given intestinal segment and show how oxygenated the blood is.

In Denmark alone, there are approx. 4,000 operations for colon and rectal cancer annually. There are currently no standardized quantification tools available on the market.

What has been accomplished?
A prototype of the software has been developed and tested and is currently being used in the research clinic. The CE process is expected to be completed in summer 2020.

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