As we celebrate the success of Empact Ventures’ 2021 Super Connect for Good competition in partnership with Hays, we catch up with George Frodsham, Founder and CEO of MediSieve.
Hays and Empact Ventures’ 2021 Super Connect for Good competition was a resounding success. The virtual final, which took place in November, saw the regional winners go head-to-head by pitching live for the Super Connect for Good 2021 Overall Champion. George Frodsham, Founder and CEO of MediSieve, was crowned the London regional winner and overall champion. The MediSieve System is a solution that purifies blood by targeting harmful substances with magnetic beads.
Disrupting the market
The team behind MediSieve have developed a technology called Magnetic Haemofiltration. This technology is a tool that enables doctors to remove specific things from the bloodstream of patients. Frodsham explained, “the idea is that they’re able to select one compound or substance in the bloodstream, it might be a particular cell, it might be a pathogen or a toxin or an inflammatory cytokine.” He added that “we can laser in on that specific target and physically extract it from the patient, in a process that takes between two and four hours.”
MediSieve’s technology has a lot of potential clinical applications across oncology, chronic pain, autoimmune diseases, etc. Magnetic Haemofiltration is an extracorporeal therapy similar to dialysis that circulates the patient’s blood outside their body. The blood is continuously circulated through this system. Frodsham explained that “the magic happens outside of the body, within this extracorporeal loop while the blood is being circulated through it.”
The first product that MediSieve has developed targets and removes a molecule called IL-6. IL-6 is a molecule that’s known as an inflammatory cytokine. The IL-6 is a signalling molecule produced by immune systems in response to an infection that tells a body and cells to have an inflammatory response to tackle that infection. Frodsham added that “the problem you get, is an inflammatory overreaction to certain infections.” When an immune system overreacts, it can result in a strong and dangerous inflammatory response throughout a body whereby the immune system starts to attack organs and can cause multiple organ failure and potential fatalities. The primary cause of death in Covid-19 patients and sepsis is due to the immune systems inflammatory response.
There are existing technologies that can physically remove things from blood, with dialysis being the most well-known. However, no technology on the market can specifically choose a molecule to remove. Current technology removes everything that broadly has a similar molecular weight or size to IL-6 and fundamentally fails to address the underlying immune imbalance. Frodsham said, “what we enable is a realignment of that immune response.” He added that “the specificity is the key differentiator really between what we offer and what’s already on the market. And that applies beyond IL-6 removal to pretty much every disease that we’re targeting.”
The technology has completed its animal trials and will be moving into the first clinical studies to prove that the system is safe and effective. An expert clinical team in Holland will be conducting these trials.
The top priority at MediSieve was first the health and safety of its employees, and then continuing to run operations once employee safety was assured. During the pandemic, Frodsham explained that the company “pivoted a little bit to focus more on the aspects of our technology that could bring a benefit to this pandemic.” Although they were in preclinical stages, the idea that they might provide a lifesaving intervention for some of the most critical Covid-19 patients was a strong motivator for the company.
Throughout the pandemic, the team at MediSieve helped by producing 3D printing ear guards and sent them onto hospitals within London. Frodsham said that “These are plastic things that go around the back of healthcare workers heads to prevent the elastics from masks causing pain to their ears throughout their long days.”
In Frodsham’s opinion, there is no such thing as a post Covid-19 world. While there might not be a post Covid-19 world, “responsiveness in the future is going to be a lot stronger and we’re going to be more aware of that kind of thing,” he added. He also believes that “people are going to be ready to put in place the measures that we put in place this time much, much faster.”
The Super Connect for Good 2021 competition
Frodsham felt that the competition was one of the best organized competitions he had ever participated in. He said: “I was impressed with the standard of companies that were pitching alongside us. We were really surprised to come out the overall winner because I thought there were some amazing companies, technologies and pitchers that took part in the contest.”
There has been a great amount of super connecting, and MediSieve have connected with a variety of resources that they otherwise wouldn’t have reached out to. Frodsham explained that the competition has “provided a boost as well in terms of our social media and directly thanks to this competition, more people are aware of the medical technology we are creating.” A competition such as Empact Ventures’ 2021 Super Connect for Good competition in partnership with Hays really helps in the marketing department when the company is heavily into physics and engineering. He added that “marketing and social networking doesn’t necessarily come naturally to me, so it’s always good to have a competition like this, which provides a bit of a boost in that area.”
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About George Frodsham, Founder and CEO of MediSieve
George Frodsham is the founder and CEO of MediSieve, a spinout from University College London. MediSieve is developing Magnetic Blood Filtration, which provides doctors with the ability to physically remove specific harmful substances directly from the bloodstream of patients. Invented by Frodsham, the technology offers new treatment possibilities for a wide range of diseases such as Sepsis, Cytokine Release Storm (most common side effect of CAR-T therapies), Leukaemia and Malaria. Frodsham’s background is in Physics and Engineering, specializing in Magnetism and Nanotechnology. MediSieve is his first company, and as CEO he has raised £8mn (from grants and investors), grown the company up to 14 employees, and won numerous awards, including “Innovator of the Year”.