Science business Clinical Venture Services (CVS), based at Discovery Park, has pioneered a potentially life-changing trial which uses a device-based solution as an alternative to lifelong drug treatment for managing high blood pressure.
The start-up company, which moved to Discovery Park last year, was contracted by medical device company, ReCor Medical to run a study to explore how the device could improve the condition.
Helen Reeve-Stoffer, owner of CVS and acting head of Clinical Affairs for ReCor Medical, said: “I set up the company in 2013, working with ReCor Medical as a consultant. Over the past five years, my company has grown to fully support ReCor Medical with this study, which has been focused at looking at a new device-based therapy to try and lower high blood pressure.”
The device requires a short operation and uses ultrasound energy to disrupt the nerves between the kidneys and the brain that carry the signal controlling blood pressure.
Helen continues: “The device is actually really simple. It’s a tube-like catheter with an ultrasound transducer, so it generates soundwaves. The soundwaves are absorbed by the tissue and create heat, which can then disrupt the nerve activity. So, the hospital can place the catheter inside the blood vessel to the kidney, as this is one of the main control mechanisms for high blood pressure. The ultrasound energy decrease the overactivity of nerves leading to the kidney.”
The international, multicentre trial randomized 146 patients who had high blood pressure. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either the ultrasound renal denervation or a placebo procedure. The patients who underwent the renal denervation showed a significantly greater reduction in blood pressure, compared to those in the placebo group.
Helen said: “When we were consenting patients for the trial, we struggled using the usual methods of recruiting through the hospitals. So instead, we tried doing something pretty cutting edge – using traditional and social media. We ended up with thousands of applications, of which approximately 800 were consented. It was an amazing result.”
“This trial is potentially ground-breaking and the fact that we could help so many patients is really impressive. Our research found that many people fail to take their medication, and so this device may give people another option if they don’t want to, or are unable to, take medicine. It’s still very early in the evaluation of this therapy, but the opportunity to have an alternative to drugs is massively significant to the blood pressure community.”
“I have around 30 people working on the trial from all over the world. Those based at Discovery Park have been involved with the success of the trial from all aspects – from logistics, to planning, to data-managing, to being in the hospital while the procedure is taking place.
“So, we’re a big team for a start-up company – but a small team for a company running this type of trial! We are hoping that its success will mean that we will be able to expand both our team, and our office space, at Discovery Park, in the near future.
“Discovery Park has been fundamental in supporting us to host such an important study in the history of medical devices. We only moved here in July 2017, but the pace at which things have accelerated since then has been huge.
“It’s so much more productive than the home office I was working in before. Also, we’ve really benefited from the collaborative environment on the park – we’ve used a lot of the services here and found that everything we needed to support our work is based here. It’s been a very positive experience.”
Graham Howieson, Head of Business Development, Discovery Park, said: “It’s great to hear of the success of this trial for Clinical Venture Services, one of a number of science support services located here at Discovery Park that are going from strength to strength.
“This is a very important area of research and we look forward to the outcome and the difference it has the potential to make to so many people.”