The team behind a revolutionary compact dialysis machine that enables kidney failure patients to treat themselves at home and relieves pressure on over-stretched hospitals has won the UK’s leading engineering innovation award for 2022.
The Royal Academy of Engineering has announced Quanta Dialysis Technologies as the recipient of the 2022 MacRobert Award, the UK’s longest-running and most prestigious award for UK engineering innovation. Joining previous MacRobert Award winners including Rolls-Royce, Arup and Raspberry Pi, Quanta was recognised for developing the SC+ system, a portable, easy-to-use, high performance dialysis machine allowing greater flexibility across the care continuum – from hospital to home.
The MacRobert Award celebrates engineering developments that demonstrate outstanding engineering innovation, commercial success and tangible social benefits, and the SC+ haemodialysis system impressed judges across all three criteria. It is already having a dramatic impact on patient quality of life since it is easier to operate, faster to train on and as powerful as traditional in-centre dialysis machines. This flexibility also enables patients to treat themselves at home overnight, receiving more dialysis care than they would in clinical settings and eliminating the gap where patients go without dialysis over a weekend.
Quanta is already working with NHS Trusts and during lockdown provided its entire UK SC+ system stock to the NHS in order to relieve pressure on hospitals and ICUs.
Judges were also impressed by the enormous commercial potential. The SC+ is already FDA cleared and selling in the US, where the dialysis market is expected to exceed $12bn. In 2021, Quanta raised $245million to fund the rollout of the SC+ system in the US — the largest-ever private funding round for a dialysis device company.
“This UK-based global healthtech success story, which traces back to technology first developed for use in fruit juice dispensers, demonstrates remarkable engineering ingenuity. Recent success comes on the back of Quanta’s considerable journey as a company. The team has been working for a decade to develop a machine that dramatically improves patient care and quality of life, relieves pressure on hospitals and showcases the enormous commercial potential that cutting edge engineering can unlock. The team exemplifies the persistence, innovation and unconventional thinking that has long been a hallmark of the UK’s greatest engineering success stories and they are worthy winners of the MacRobert Award,” commented Professor Sir Richard Friend FREng FRS, Chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award judging panel.
The SC+ system marks a major advance in dialysis technology, which has seen little innovation in decades. It operates using proprietary single-use cartridge that eliminates the need for expensive and time-consuming disinfection between treatments Each cartridge incorporates a series of pneumatic membrane pumps, rather than the piston-driven pumps found in traditional dialysis machines.
This provides highly accurate fluid management and enhanced distribution within the dialyser itself, which acts as an artificial kidney, while minimising cross contamination and bio-burden (the number of microorganisms living on a non-sterilised surface) between treatments.
The key part of the SC+ is the disposable cartridge (the plastic ‘square’ shown in the animation – circled below) that can be swapped in and out of machines. This means the SC+ is far smaller than traditional machines BUT it also means it’s far easier to use, the treatment is far more controllable by the patient and the machine requires no cleaning before/after use.
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