Phagenesis to develop dysphagia treatment device

Phagenesis has raised £2m of investment to support the development of a device to treat stroke patients who suffer from dysphagia, a common dysfunction that prevents or impairs the safe swallowing of food and drink.

Apart from a severe reduction in the quality of life, dysphagia often leads to the inhalation of liquids and the development of life-threatening pneumonia. In addition, the financial burden of dysphagia can run to thousands of pounds per patient in the first few weeks alone and may continue indefinitely if the patient’s swallowing is not restored.

The Phagenesis treatment involves the precise delivery of controlled electrical pulses to nerve clusters linked to the muscle groups involved in swallowing. The stimulation pulses then travel back along nerve pathways to the swallowing control centres in both hemispheres of the brain. This stimulation selectively increases brain activity and results in rapid and long-lasting improvements in swallowing function and control.

The company, which was spun out from Manchester University, has been successful in rapidly attracting funding from a number of experienced investors.

Commenting on the funding news, Phagenesis chief executive officer Daniel Green said: ’The investment will enable us to undertake design and clinical trials of a production device, which we expect to be available globally.’

Dr Conor Mulrooney, chief operating officer, and Prof Shaheen Hamdy founded Phagenesis in 2007. Hamdy, the inventor of the technology, is professor of gastroenterology at Salford Royal Hospital NHS Trust and was previously fellow at the Sobell Department of Neurophysiology at UCL.