More funding for Oxford spin-out developing ultrasound treatment for back & neck pain


OrthoSon, an Oxford University spin-out based at the Oxford Science Park which is developing a novel ultrasound-based treatment for lower back and neck pain, has been awarded a £250,000 extension to its £1.2 million Biomedical Catalyst award.

The extension, which will enable completion of the device prototype and generation of preclinical data, has been awarded under the COVID-19 Continuity Grant scheme provided by Innovate UK, the UK’s Innovation Agency. The information and prototype generated under the Biomedical Catalyst grant will accelerate development of OrthoSon’s technology towards first-in-human trials. Its product is expected to restore spinal function as well as reduce pain in a way which is significantly safer, less invasive and more cost-effective than current surgical options, with reduced need for pain relief.

OrthoSon raised £1.8 million in seed funding in November 2019 led by Oxford Technology and Innovations EIS Fund (OTIF) and its advisor Oxford Investment Consultants. This investment came in addition to the Biomedical Catalyst grant from Innovate UK. The company’s technology is based on patents and a decade of research at the University’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering.

Rich Simmonds, CEO of OrthoSon, said: “Receipt of the Continuity Grant from Innovate UK will allow us to maintain momentum in our Biomedical Catalyst project, generating the prototype and preclinical data needed for the next stages of product development. OrthoSon would like to thank Innovate UK for its ongoing support of our minimally invasive ultrasound-based approach which we expect to revolutionise treatment of crippling lower back and neck pain.”

Lower back or neck pain is the largest cause of disability globally and causes enormous economic burden, with the costs of treatment, productivity loss and sick leave exceeding $100bn pa in the US and £12bn pa in the UK.

OrthoSon is targeting the large group of patients where pain and disability is caused by degeneration of the intervertebral discs located between vertebrae in the spine. Current treatments, including spinal fusion and disc replacement, are extremely costly, highly invasive and show poor outcomes, often leaving patients reliant on long term medication to manage the pain.

OrthoSon’s patent-protected technology uses a combination of high intensity, high precision focussed ultrasound, gas-stabilising solid particles and injectable hydrogel, all delivered through a small needle directly into the degenerated disc. After the particles are injected into the disc, externally delivered focussed ultrasound is used to implode them repeatedly, causing complete breakdown of the nucleus (centre) of the degenerated disc. OrthoSon’s hydrogel is then injected through the original needle, where it cures (sets) to form a replacement nucleus that restores the function of the spinal segment.