OrganOx has received £4.6m from investment firm BGF, enabling it to fund commercial expansion of its metra automated system for preserving donor livers outside the human body. The company plans to expand its US operation, after already having gained traction in Europe, Australia and Canada.
OrganOx metra is the first fully automated system for keeping a human donor liver functioning for up to 24 hours outside the body. The invention breaks with 40 years of traditional organ preservation in ice, doubling the time donor organs can be preserved.
The device mimics the environment of the human body with warm, oxygenated blood and nutrients supplied to the liver in the crucial time between donation and transplantation.
Through its development of metra, OrganOx has enabled transplant teams to objectively assess the function of a donor liver before a transplant, something which is impossible with ice storage. This is particularly important when a donor liver is identified as ‘marginal’, meaning it’s uncertain whether it will function following transplant.
More than 600 patients have received a liver preserved with the OrganOx metra. It is commercially available in Europe, and has been used clinically in North America and Australia.
In 2008, OrganOx was spun out from Oxford University, where the underpinning technology was developed.
OrganOx chief executive Craig Marshall said: “This investment is key for two reasons. First, the funding will be critical in allowing us to execute our commercial plans in the US.
“Second, having BGF at the board table will ensure we leverage its impressive track record of successfully guiding growing businesses to achieve their full potential. Ultimately this is great news for all our stakeholders including current investors, employees and patients requiring a lifesaving organ transplant.”
Alex Snodgrass, an investor at BGF, said: “We are excited to be investing in another thriving business in the UK’s life sciences sector and growing our presence here in Oxford.
“As the first company to commercialise a fully automated liver preservation system, OrganOx has disrupted the transplant market and we believe that the potential of this ground-breaking technology on global mortality rates could be significant,” he adds.