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Ablatus Therapeutic’s fertility-preserving solution to uterine fibroids gains traction





Ablatus Therapeutics is set to launch a crowdfunding campaign for its patented radiofrequency ablation technology – which aims to offer a new treatment for uterine fibroids – called Luna.

Uterine fibroids, which affect up to 80 per cent of women by age 50, remain a hugely underserved global health issue. Though not always symptomatic, fibroids can cause debilitating pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, abdominal swelling, and complications during pregnancy and labour – conditions which costs at least $6bn annually in the US alone (up to $34bn depending on how you measure societal costs such as time off work).

Ablatus Therapeutics CEO Chung Looi and senior scientist Robert Smith at St John's Innovation Centre. Picture: Keith Heppell
Ablatus Therapeutics CEO Chung Looi and senior scientist Robert Smith at St John's Innovation Centre. Picture: Keith Heppell

Current treatments include contraceptive pills and invasive surgery, which are not always fertility-preserving and highlight the urgent need for innovative solutions such as Luna.

“Fibroids may affect fertility in terms of a woman’s ability to conceive,” says CEO Chung Looi. “Many women are referred to open surgery which involves removing part of, or the entire, uterus such as myomectomy or hysterectomy: our approach is fertility-preserving in the sense that we do not remove any part of the uterus.

“We’re targeting global markets as the condition affects so many women globally. For healthcare systems this is a priority for women’s health, so we should start today.”

Ablatus was founded in 2015. The company is a spinout from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, where bimodal electric tissue ablation, which underpins the Luna device, was invented. The vision is to offer improved patient outcomes across a range of clinical conditions through the application of its next-generation soft tissue radiofrequency ablation (RFA) technology.

Luna improves on standard RFA techniques and the Luna device offers a novel, cost-effective and efficient approach to in-situ destruction of abnormal tissue – such as tumours and fibroids – while protecting healthy adjacent tissue, without any open surgery being involved.

Ablatus Therapeutics’ generator and probe. Picture: eg technology
Ablatus Therapeutics’ generator and probe. Picture: eg technology

Ablatus has been backed by experienced angels and VC investors, with £3m in funding to date including a £1.4m Innovate UK grant in 2020 to fast-forward clinical studies and regulatory approvals in the EU.

The company began its focus on uterine fibroids in 2021, says Looi, who joined in November that year. Looi has been in Cambridge since 2015, with Cambridge Cognition and then OxfordVR, before working remotely for Copenhagen-based medical device company, Monsenso, in commercial roles.

In 2022 Anne Blackwood, who is also chief executive of Health Tech Enterprise, became chair of the Ablatus board, and it’s been all systems go since.

“Before Luna, Ablatus was looking at general enhanced ablation technologies to destroy soft tissue across conditions such as tumours,” Looi says. “It was oncology applications, and we narrowed it down to women’s health.

“This is a treatment – we generate radio waves, they generate heat and we use heat to barbecue soft tissue, to kill the fibroids. Fibroids can grow anywhere in the womb. Luna operates in a minimally invasive way so that means no incisions or open surgery.”

Ablatus Therapeutics’ probe
Ablatus Therapeutics’ probe

Luna’s unique steerable probe needs to be completed and then go forward to clinical trials.

“The probe is paired with an ultrasound machine probe and delivers ablations to destroy the fibroids. The standard procedure is to find where fibroids are, then use the probe and once the fibroids are ablated the tissue goes white on the screen. A probe is in the woman’s body for around 15-20 minutes: it’s based on existing procedures.”

The crowdfunding is part of a £500,000 raise to complete the probe.

“We have a pre-manufacturing prototype for two-thirds of the device and the final piece is the steerable probe,” notes Looi.

At Ablatus Therapeutics are, from left, senior scientist Robert Smith, NED Natalie Hayes, chair Anne Blackwood and CEO Dr Chung Looi
At Ablatus Therapeutics are, from left, senior scientist Robert Smith, NED Natalie Hayes, chair Anne Blackwood and CEO Dr Chung Looi

“eg technology worked on the ablation technology, and now that’s become a core technology for the Luna device and forms the basis for our next step.”

The Crowdcube page is expected to go live next month.

“It’s early access right now, we’re just engaging interest, it’ll go live next month, when we hit 250 expressions of interest – so for instance you pledge to invest £1,000, we’ll tell you when the campaign opens, then you invest and own a part of Ablatus – you have equity.

“And following that we hope to start clinical trials later this year.

Ablatus Therapeutics senior scientist Robert Smith and CEO Chung Looi at St John's Innovation Centre. Picture: Keith Heppell
Ablatus Therapeutics senior scientist Robert Smith and CEO Chung Looi at St John's Innovation Centre. Picture: Keith Heppell

“Your contribution will help us complete the development of our pioneering femtech solution for fibroids.

“Everyone knows someone affected by fibroids; with Luna, we’re ensuring that future generations won’t have to endure unnecessary suffering.”



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