Dutch physicist Willem Kolff’s invention of the first dialysis machine, which he called ‘the artificial kidney, in the 1940s paved the way for the technology to be further developed and widely available by the 60s and 70s. Dialysis machines have unarguably saved and improved the lives of millions of patients suffering from partial or full kidney failure.
But with around 90% of patients who undergo regular dialysis treatment receiving it at either specialist dialysis centres or hospital facilities, and sessions taking several hours at a time, the procedure does have a major impact on day-to-day life. It’s also a major expense for the NHS, or for insurers and personal budgets elsewhere in the world. Internationally, it is estimated that around 3.5 million individuals need regular dialysis treatment.
Home dialysis treatment does exist. But bottlenecks, of which the most significant is the fact that equipment and technology is bulky and expensive, means currently on 5% of dialysis patients in the UK undergo treatment at home.
Step forward Qanta, the UK-based technology start-up that has developed the SC+ – a new dialysis machine designed for home use and roughly the size of a microwave. The SC+ is also a lot easier to use than current dialysis technology. Patients can be quickly instructed how to set themselves up on it for daily procedures. That means they can either undergo their dialysis sessions at home to a schedule that is convenient for them. Or they can visit a ‘self-service’ clinic – again, with greater control over scheduling. A further silver lining to home and self-service dialysis treatment is in greatly reducing the cost to the NHS.
Qanta has announced the successful completion of an investment round that has raised £38 million. The money will fund the company launching the SC+ with the NHS. Approval for the SC+ to be launched in the USA will also be pursued. Investors in the round include a private Swiss family office, European venture capitalist btov Partners, Wellington Partners and Seroba Life Sciences.
Qanta has existed since 2008, when the unit was spun out of precision engineering company IMI. The company’s home dialysis technology is founded on an adaptation of the same technology that is used to mix soft drink syrups with carbonated water in bars.
John Milad, who heads up Qanta expressed his satisfaction and pride at how the SC+ would give dialysis patients“greater control of their lives by making dialysis as easy as visiting a “cash machine”. He hopes there will soon be tens of thousands of SC+ home dialysis machines in use around the world.