Embricon: Breakthrough in the Treatment of Varicose Veins

Varicose veins can sometimes be a very painful condition that affects half of everyone over 40 years old. While it is rarely serious and most manifestations of the condition are nothing more than unsightly there is still occasion for medical intervention to alleviate discomfort.

One of the two main treatments is to use a ball attached to a wire which was pulled back and forth to ream out the vein. The other technique is thermal ablation where a probe is inserted into the vein and energised thus removing the vein by means of the application of heat.

Both these methods have been know to cause a lot of collateral damage to the surrounding tissues, nerves and musculature.

Marto Hoary, Chief Technical Officer of Embricon in Galway, Ireland believes he has developed another, far less damaging technique to extract varicose veins.

He explains, “A catheter goes inside the vein and removes the blood in the process so there is no internal bleeding during or after the procedure. Then by means of a vacuum effect it grips the vein internally at various points along the vein but most importantly at the distal or far end.

“Instead of being burned out or reamed out the vein is peeled out so there is no damage to any other tissue. So the vein comes out cleanly without injury.

“We can also deliver a drug precisely to the channel that the vein came from in order to ease the post-operative trauma. But because this process causes such little collateral damage that there is in fact very little post-operative trauma. Because the blood is removed at the beginning of the procedure there is little chance of an inflammatory response from the body.”

Marto is from Eyrecourt, Galway but spent many years in the design and engineering field in the United States and the United Kingdom. Looking to get involved in management, research and he decided that he would like to develop some kind of product or opportunity for himself.

“Medical devices seemed like an opportune area. I met some senior consultants who happened to be neighbours of mine in Galway. We talked about combining my engineering knowledge with their medical knowledge and that was the start of what I am doing now.

“We had a dozen or so ideas to start with but when we engaged with Enterprise Ireland they encouraged us to have one venture to build the business around. We identified the treatment of varicose veins was where the best opportunity was.

Marto was able to draw on his experience from working with multinationals to, “clearly define a problem and systematically look for creative solutions.”

Proof of concept was reached by the end of 2008 and Embricon were ready to go into taking the product concepts to volume for validation and clinical trials when the full effects of the recession were first felt in the Irish banking sector and sources of funding became harder to come by.

But as Marto explains that doesn’t mean that development has stopped, “What we have done since is validated that our product is really good. We’ve refined the concept to make it a really simple, highly applicable product.

“We’ve carried out extensive in vitro trials because they are low cost to us because we have the surgeon’s cooperation. We also carried out large-scale animal trials. Also very significantly we completed our patenting process.

“We have a concept that is proven and the patents are in place and now we have to do human studies with it as opposed to clinical trials. The device is not required for regulatory purposes to undergo clinical trials but for our diligence and those that would be interested in acquiring our company these studies are clearly desirable.”

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