Somnus Scientific raises £600,000 to improve sedation and anaesthesia outcomes for patients

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Bath-based Somnus Scientific is making anaesthesia safer for patients, better for the environment and more cost effective for healthcare by unlocking alternatives to traditional gas-based anaesthetics.

“The practice of keeping anaesthetised patients unconscious with gasses really hasn’t changed much in over 100 years, and 90% of operations worldwide are still performed using this technology,” says Dr Tim Craft, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Somnus Scientific.

“Anaesthetic gasses are heavily linked with nausea, slow recovery, memory loss and environmental damage, accounting for 5% of a typical hospital’s carbon footprint.”

Somnus’ solution is to aid the transition to the use of propofol as a drug for maintaining anaesthesia. Propofol is a short acting sedative that supports a rapid, high quality recovery with very low incidences of nausea and patient confusion.

“Retrospective analysis indicates that patients who have cancer and are anaesthetised with propofol are more likely to be alive five years later than those given gaseous anaesthesia,” says Tim.

Despite being first licensed for use in 1986, propofol has to date been primarily used as a drug for initiating anaesthesia, rather than a replacement for gases for its continuance.

This has been largely due to the inability to accurately measure the levels of propofol concentration in a patient’s blood stream in real-time, and therefore monitor the extent and depth of the patient’s sedation during a procedure.

Somnus’ world-first biosensor solves this problem. It uses enzymes to metabolise propofol, producing electrons that are measured at the sensor, enabling anaesthetists to monitor and adapt sedation levels in real time.

With support from Innovate UK EDGE Access to Finance Specialist, Ed Tellwright, Somnus Scientific recently raised £600,000 from a combination of private investors and a cornerstone institutional investor; Utilico Emerging Markets Trust plc.

“Ed really helped hone our pitching skills – we now focus on getting our ‘home runs in early’ grabbing the investor’s attention early on with our key selling points.”

The company will use the funds to further develop its products before undertaking testing in the UK. A phased domestic and international launch, focusing first on Europe and then on global markets will follow.

“The whole package of support from Innovate UK EDGE has opened doors that would have been very difficult to open by ourselves,” says Tim, “and it’s really helping us to accelerate towards commercialisation.”

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