Pictured the OncoRes Medical team: Back (L – R) Anthony Fortina, Kath Giles, Leslie Wise, Simon Graindorge, Robert Pass, Sofie de Wolf, Stuart Bartlett. Front (L – R) Georgina Holbeche, Jill Anderson, Stephen Thompson. Photo by Rob Johnson.
OncoRes Medical was founded at the intersection of medicine, science and humanity by leading clinicians and researchers from the University of Western Australia, the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, and the Western Australian Department of Health.
With a focus on improving the accuracy of breast conserving surgery, OncoRes Medical is driven by a mission to eliminate repeat operations after breast conserving surgery.
Among women, breast cancer is the most common cancer, the second most common cause of death from cancer and a leading cause of premature death.
Over 20,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in Australia. The majority of those women will elect a breast conserving surgery to excise the tumour and preserve the appearance and function of their breast. However, due to the limitations of technologies available to oncology surgeons today, the cancer will not be completely removed in many of those patients, committing up to 1 in 3 of those patients to a repeat operation.
OncoRes Medical CEO, Dr Katharine Giles, said her team are driven by the opportunity to reduce the patient and economic burdens associated with repeat breast conserving surgeries through the development of their innovative technology.
"OncoRes Medical is passionately committed to transforming the standard of care in breast cancer surgery, which today leaves up to 1 in 3 breast cancer patients in Australia requiring a repeat operation," said Dr Giles.
"Our in-cavity imaging system uniquely intensifies a surgeon's sense of touch, improving surgical accuracy and facilitating confidence in complete tumour removal the first time. This will eliminate the substantial physical, psychological and economic burdens associated with repeat breast cancer surgeries around the world."
The intraoperative imaging system under development at OncoRes Medical generates quantified microscale tissue elasticity information which allows the surgeon to distinguish stiff cancerous tissue from normal breast tissue within the surgical cavity.
"We believe that all breast cancer patients deserve the opportunity to move beyond their breast cancer surgery knowing that all the cancer has been removed, the first time," said Dr Giles.
Founded in WA in 2016, OncoRes Medical attracted funding including a Series A investment in 2016 from the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund, which was established and managed by Brandon Capital Partners to support the development and growth of Australian and New Zealand life science companies. The company has also benefitted from Australian Government grant funding (CRC-P) and R&D tax rebates, as well as prizes and awards.
After travelling with the MTPConnect Australian delegation to the 2018 MedTech Conference in Philadelphia, OncoRes Medical became an Australian medtech start-up to watch. They returned to the 2019 MedTech Conference in Boston as a Top-5 finalist in the Global MedTech Innovator Accelerator Awards. The start-up was not only the first Australian company to take part in the program, but they also won the Value Award for the best value proposition against a range of global competitors.
In 2019, OncoRes Medical went on to win the Emerging Company of the Year at The AusBiotech and Johnson & Johnson Innovation Industry Excellence Awards in Melbourne, as well as the Tech23 2019 'Greatest Potential Award'. 2019 also saw the company undertake clinical trials in WA, a key activity for commercialising a new medical technology.
2020 has already started strongly, as OncoRes Medical was recently awarded funding through MTPConnect's third round of the BioMedTech Horizons program.
MTPConnect's Director of Stakeholder Engagement WA Dr Kate Brooks said that OncoRes Medical is an outstanding example for other WA start-ups.
"They have demonstrated an exceptional ability to capture the intricacies of what it means to conduct a cancer-removing surgery and create a device that will make the whole process easier, quicker, and less of a strain on patients," said Dr Brooks.
"It is this mix of creativity and research that drives great medtech innovation.
"Having MTPConnect and the WA Life Sciences Innovation Hub supporting OncoRes Medical in their pitching campaigns, connecting them to global supply chains, and promoting their commercialisation journey to date has been a great experience.
"We look forward to continuing that support and seeing where they go."