Scan image of NASH patient. Pic: Perspectum

£29 million round to help Perspectum expand reach of liver disease diagnostics tech

 4 mins | By Karen David
 | Healthcare | Biotech | Medical | Apr 17th 2020

More people potentially suffering from chronic liver diseases could gain access to digital diagnostic technology, thanks to new funding for Oxford-based Perspectum. The firm plans to expand commercialisation of LiverMultiScan, its non-invasive technology for the detection of chronic liver diseases, following a £29 million ($36 million) funding round. Liver diseases are growing in prevalence worldwide, particularly in western countries, and Perspectum claims that the nature of its technology will enable its plans to move forward despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

go deeper

Dr Rajarshi Banerjee, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Perspectum, explained that the LiverMultiScan technology is well placed to deal with the current interruption to normal life:

“As a digital health technology that can be set up and analysed without any close proximity, it is offering doctors a new way of assessing and monitoring their patients’ underlying health conditions at this critical time.

“Of course, in big hospital systems the focus has rightly shifted to Covid-19, but everyone sees that there will still be challenges in managing chronic liver disease that need solutions like LiverMultiScan.”

On whether the pandemic impacts the company’s commercial activities, he said: “Interestingly, we have seen an increase in C-suite engagement because they’re not travelling so much and have the bandwidth to future plan, showing that the value of the technology is appreciated, even in the current climate.”

Dr Rajarshi Banerjee. Pic: John Cairns

LiverMultiScan uses software to extract quantitative data from MRI scans to help to detect chronic liver disease such as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a progressive form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) that is connected to excess body weight.

The technology is now being used in several government hospitals and outpatient imaging centres across the UK, Spain, Slovakia and the Netherlands, in a total of 105 sites in Europe, with five countries offering the technology clinically. The imaging tool is supporting standard clinical care of patients with chronic liver disease and is incorporated in wellness packages to provide individuals with information on their liver health.

The new funding will also enable Perspectum to expand its Contract Research Organisation (CRO) imaging-focused platform for biopharmaceutical companies, and enable it to develop more products for biliary disease, diabetes and cancer for clinical and CRO applications.

The funding comes from a consortium of new and existing investors, co-led by Blue Venture Fund and San Francisco-based HealthQuest Capital, and including Oxford Sciences Innovation, Puhua Capital and University of Oxford.

Banerjee added: “Blue Venture Fund’s invaluable insight in navigating reimbursement and coverage decisions, and HealthQuest’s experience ramping growth stage healthcare companies and specific experience in clinical diagnostics and clinical trial services will be enormously beneficial to our business.”

Garheng Kong, MD, PhD, Managing Partner at HealthQuest will join the Perspectum Board, and commented: “Perspectum is addressing a large medical need with very few current solutions and has the opportunity to become the standard of care for liver disease diagnosis as a first application. We believe there is an opportunity to build a best-in-class medical imaging company for multiple clinical indications and are excited to work alongside BVF to help Perspectum realize this vision.”

The prevalence of chronic liver diseases

In 2018 Perspectum revealed data which indicates that the prevalence of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) among UK adults could be as high as 12 per cent. NASH is a progressive form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) which is now considered to be one of the major causes of cirrhosis of the liver. The data was sourced from UK Biobank, the world’s largest database of health information.

NAFLD is a major cause of liver disease accounting for over 60 per cent of liver patients in Western countries. The World Gastroenterology Organization Global Guidelines classify NAFLD as a condition defined by excessive fat accumulation (steatosis) in the liver (>5% of liver cells under a microscope).

Excess body weight causes liver fat deposition and chronic inflammation, which can lead to liver cirrhosis as well as diabetes, accelerated heart disease and early death (fatty liver disease (FLD) doubles the risk of heart attack). A subgroup of NAFLD patients (up to 25%) have liver cell injury and inflammation in addition to excessive fat, a condition designated as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Up to 40% of these patients will progress to cirrhosis, liver failure, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

NASH is widely considered to be the liver expression of metabolic syndrome, that is, diseases related to diabetes mellitus type 2, insulin resistance, central obesity, hyperlipidemia, and hypertension.

There is already a worldwide epidemic of diabetes and obesity, and the figure shows the expected increases of diabetes in different parts of the world, which will closely correlate with rates of NASH.

In the US, NAFLD and NASH impact more than 100 million people. LiverMultiScan has been cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as having proven accuracy and precision in assessment of liver tissue, enabling improved diagnostic pathways for liver disorders. NASH also has increasing prevalence in China, where the technology is also being evaluated.

About the Author

Karen David

Karen has a long career in writing and communications in technology, finance and creative sectors in Oxfordshire, the UK and internationally.

Subscribe to our newsletter