Bioelectronic company Ceryx Medical, a spin-out from the Universities of Bath and Bristol, has won the 2022 Business Start-up Award from the UK’s Institute of Physics, which praised the company’s revolutionary bioelectronic devices.

Ceryx was formed in 2016 as a joint venture exploiting the neuronal technology patented by the University of Bath and the know-how in cardiac neuromodulation at the University of Bristol. This innovative research created microchip technology for medical devices that restores the natural synchronization of biological rhythms, including a neuronal cardiac pacemaker which has the potential to provide the world’s first curative therapy for heart failure.

“These bioelectronic devices help restore the lost physiological functions within the body. This approach allows revolutionary therapies with no side effects to be employed,” The Institute of Physics - the professional body and learned society for physics in the UK and Ireland - said in its award citation.

Unlike conventional pacemakers which apply metronomic stimulation, the neuronal pacemaker produces minute adjustments to heartbeat intervals to resynchronize the cardiac and respiratory rhythms. This has the effect of saving the heart energy, reverting the debilitating symptoms of heart failure by giving the heart the opportunity to repair itself.

“We are delighted to have been recognised nationally for our development work on solving a truly global problem. An estimated 30 million people suffer from heart failure and, once the cycle of heart failure is established, current therapies can do little to prevent disease progression. We believe we can change that,” said Dr Stuart Plant, Ceryx Chief Executive Officer.

“Even on optimal medical therapy, mortality rates five years from diagnosis are 50%, which is considerably higher than most forms of cancer. Caring for these patients accounts for around 2 percent of healthcare budgets, around £100 billion every year,” Plant said.

Alain Nogaret, co-founder of Ceryx, and Professor at the University of Bath’s Department of Physics, said: “I am delighted to see Ceryx technology recognised by the Institute of Physics. Ceryx is an example of how research in nonlinear science can be translated to medical device applications for the greater benefit of society.”

Jonathan Knight, Vice-President (Enterprise) at the University of Bath, said the university was proud to have played its part in helping Ceryx grow.

“The University of Bath works with businesses, researchers, and students to enable new ideas, innovation, and growth – Ceryx is just one of the many success stories in our Enterprise and Entrepreneurship community – and this recognition by the Institute of Physics is well deserved,” Knight said.

The technology developed by Ceryx continuously monitors the patient’s cardiorespiratory system, processing this information and generating precisely timed impulses which optimise the beating of the heart. By restoring the natural modulation of the heart, it has the potential to restore cardiac performance, boost physical performance, relieve stress on the heart and even reverse cardiac remodelling indicative of heart failure, all of which goes towards saving patients’ lives and improving their quality of life.

Dr Plant added: “One complaint we hear from heart patients fitted with a conventional pacemaker is that their heart feels disconnected from their emotions – one patient said she was disconcerted when seeing her new grandchildren to find her heart did not match the joy she knew she was experiencing. We would like to remedy that.”

Ceryx plans to launch its first human studies for the enhanced pacemaker in early 2023.