SensiBile: new partnership to revolutionise liver transplantation

11 Aug 22

A CRM spin-out company SensiBile, developing a new test to determine the viability of a liver, prior to transplant, has announced a new partnership with Scottish technology firm Integrated Graphene.

SensiBile was co-founded by CRM’s Dr Sofia Ferreira-Gonzalez (CEO), Hannah Esser (Transplant Surgeon) and Professor Stuart Forbes (Medical Director) with the mission is to revolutionise organ transplantation by defining the quality of the donor livers prior to transplantation, ensuring the best for transplant patients and their surgeons.

Integrated Graphene has pioneered a high performing, low cost, 3D Graphene Foam electrode, Gii-Sens®, for biosensing and are working with SensiBile to develop a point-of-care biomedical test to revolutionise the safety of liver transplants. The prototype electrochemical biosensor will help detect biliary complication (BC) biomarkers in donor livers, which can predict the probability of a donor liver developing BC after transplantation.

Dr Ferreira-Gonzalez, CEO of SensiBile, said: ‘‘Our experimental work helped us to understand that the damage that leads to BC development is already present prior to transplantation. By assessing which donor livers have high probability of BC development, we aim to provide the surgeons with the necessary information to make informed decisions. ‘‘Our test will help transplant surgeons around the world to improve the selection process for organs, increase the pool of available donor livers and ultimately reduce BC rates.’’

Dr Ferreira-Gonzalez first pitched the idea behind sensiBile at the IRR Regeneration Innovation Early Career Innovation Competition in 2019.

The use of Integrated Graphene’s patented Gii-Sens® electrode will help to assess the viability of the biliary compartment, which produces the bile required for digestion and waste removal, and the quality of the donor liver prior to transplantation. SensiBile’s test will help surgeons to judge liver viability prior to transplantation, using a small sample of bile from the donor liver, improving donor-recipient matching and preventing the development of life-threatening or life-changing biliary complications.

CEO and co-founder at Integrated Graphene, Claus Marquordt said: “When we created Gii-Sens, it was exactly for these types of applications - a low-cost, portable, fast response and accurate multiplexed platform for point-of-care diagnostics.

“The beauty of the technology is that is can be scaled and reproduced quickly, at very low cost, with no drop-off in performance… it’s hugely exciting to be involved in projects like this.”

At present, more than 30,000 donor livers are transplanted annually worldwide. However, up to 30% of the transplanted livers will develop biliary complications, a major factor determining long term patient survival following liver transplantation. Biliary complications have a large impact on patient morbidity, requiring time, money, resources and ultimately a second transplant. Donor livers are often declined by surgeons for transplant because of a lack of diagnostic tools to judge the overall quality and transplant suitability of the liver.

The new diagnostic tool from SensiBile allows users to accurately test a bile sample when the donor organ is removed. The Gii-Sens electrode will react to the test’s unique biliary complications biosignature identified by the SensiBile team and deliver a rapid high risk/low risk liver message, allowing surgeons to make immediate informed decisions about the viability and further usage of the donor livers.

The SensiBile project is made up of an interdisciplinary team of scientists from the University of Edinburgh in the Centre for Regenerative Medicine and Infection Medicine and leading transplant surgeons from Edinburgh, Innsbruck, and Turin. The project has received funding from the MRC Confidence in Concept scheme (a translational research award aimed at accelerating the transition from discovery science to the early stage of translational science) and Scottish Enterprise High Growth Spin Out program, that aims to help researchers to take their ideas from the lab to the global marketplace.

The wider project team also includes Professor Till Bachmann and Dr Holger Schulze of the Infection Medicine division of the University’s Medical School and is supported by Edinburgh Innovations, the University’s commercialisation service.

SensiBile website

Integrated Graphene website

Article in The Independent

News: Sofia wins IRR Early Career Innovator competition