Good prospects for patient-friendly monitoring of rheumatism
Technology developer and producer Demcon has acquired Hemics, a developer of technology for monitoring rheumatic patients. Demcon has been a partner of Hemics for product development and production since 2012, and this autumn Demcon took over the technology and some of Hemics’ employees to provide more leverage for the market introduction. This resulted in the creation of Demcon hemics on 1 November this year. As part of the Demcon Group, Demcon hemics has a solid financial basis, as well as all the necessary expertise and capacity required for further product development, production and sales.
Hemics started in 2011 as a spin-off with technology developed within Philips for patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a chronic inflammatory disease. This technology concerns a non-invasive imaging system that can visualise the inflammatory activity in patients’ hands. The use of the ‘HandScan’ can help to improve patients’ quality of life and reduce treatment costs. The founders of Hemics, Michiel van Beek and Wouter Rensen, concentrated on clinical research, market introduction and the development of the data algorithm. This algorithm is the heart of the technology: it translates the technical measurement data from the scanner into clinical information that the rheumatologist can interpret.
In 2012, Hemics joined forces with Demcon as a development partner to bring the HandScan to the market as a compact, user-friendly and affordable device. During development, particular attention was devoted to the intuitive user interface and the industrial design, in addition to the lighting module. This was with a view to ensuring the acceptance of the device by future users: rheumatologists in academic and peripheral hospitals, and rheumatology clinics. “After completing the development process, we also undertook the production”, says Michiel Jannink, managing director of Demcon medical systems. “There are now dozens of systems in various clinics in the Netherlands and beyond. They are used, among other things, to gather more information about inflammatory symptoms and to gain experience in measuring patients properly. The HandScan has been well received by key opinion leaders in the world of rheumatology and at the congress of EULAR, the European League Against Rheumatism, among others.”
However, Hemics lacked sufficient strength for further rollout in the market. That is why Demcon took over the baton this autumn, in setting up Demcon hemics on 1 November. The concern will be housed in the new Demcon location in Best, the Netherlands. In addition to the technology, three Hemics employees, including the two founders, have switched to Demcon hemics. Hemics co-founder, Michiel van Beek, comments, “As part of the Demcon Group, Demcon hemics has a solid foundation. They have all the necessary expertise and capacity for further product development, production and sales, and the financial strength needed to bring groundbreaking medical technology such as the HandScan to full market acceptance and compensation.”
ReumaNederland welcomes relaunch
Health fund ReumaNederland has been following the development of the HandScan with great interest for years and has reacted positively to this relaunch. Corné Baatenburg-de Jong, deputy director of ReumaNederland, says, “We are pleased that this innovation can continue to progress in the field, enabling patients with RA to benefit from it in their treatment.” Hemics co-founder Wouter Rensen adds, “Together with ReumaNederland, we plan to enter into discussions with health insurance companies about the admission of the HandScan to the reimbursement system, so that it will be within reach for all RA patients.”
About the HandScan: measuring inflammation safely and quickly
The technology, developed by Philips and further developed by Hemics, involves the measurement of blood flow in (inflamed) joints in the hands and wrists. This is done with diffuse optical transmission in combination with blood flow modulation. Optical technology makes the measurement system safe for the patient and quick and inexpensive to use – a measurement takes only a few minutes. A cuff temporarily blocks the blood flow in a patient’s forearm, leading to blood accumulation. The hand is illuminated from below and a camera measures the transmitted light at the top, then converts it into a series of grey-scale images. By measuring at two wavelengths, red and infrared, the subtle differences in joint circulation can be accurately determined. These differences provide information about the degree of inflammation.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
RA is a chronic inflammatory disease of the joints, which occurs in 0.5-1% of the world’s population. The disease is progressive, as yet incurable and therefore chronic. RA is associated with regular flare-ups of inflammations. Treatment, which is controlled by measuring inflammatory activity among other things, can prevent irreversible joint damage (with long-term joint deformation and loss of function). Monitoring inflammatory activity can therefore help to reduce treatment costs. This is important because of the chronic progression of RA and the high costs of advanced medication.
Demcon (600 employees) develops, produces and supplies technology and innovative products and systems that offer solutions for the technical and societal challenges of customers and end users worldwide. Its focus areas are high-tech systems, medical systems, industrial systems & vision, optomechatronic systems and unmanned systems. Demcon is located in Enschede, Best, Delft, Groningen and Oldenzaal (the Netherlands) and Münster (Germany).
For more information, please contact Renée Koekkoek op Munsterhuis, public relations at Demcon, tel. +31 (0)88-11 52 000 or +31 (0)6-52 63 11 85, firstname.lastname@example.org.
See also www.demcon.nl.