By: 21 August 2023
PFE Medical wins business award for product developed through Aston University KTP

PFE Medical has won the Science, Technology, and Innovation Award at the 2023 Staffordshire Chambers Business Awards for its Khamsin automated endoscope cleaning system.

Aston University and PFE Medical‘s sister company Partnership Medical (PML) developed the Khamsin through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), a three-way collaboration between a business, an academic partner and a highly qualified researcher, known as a KTP associate.

Endoscopes are long, thin tubes with a light and camera at one end used in medical examinations. Due to the sensitivity of the materials and electronics they cannot be properly sterilised, therefore opening up high potential for cross-infection when used between patients. The automated prototype and new cleaning materials developed in the KTP produced astonishing results in clinical trials, with a simple five-minute treatment offering deep cleaning levels 1,000 times better than anticipated. These hygiene levels are far superior to those possible using conventional manual procedures, thus reducing risks of contamination to patients and lowering rates of mortality. The reduced need for manual cleaning results in less plastic waste, meaning that the Khamsin is also more eco-friendly. Following hugely successful clinical trials, the Khamsin has been rolled out at Good Hope Hospital in Birmingham.

The Aston University team who worked on the KTP included Dr Andy Sutherland and Dr Tony Worthington from the Aston Institute of Materials Research, and KTP associate, Dr Thien Duong, an expert in synthetic chemistry and chemical engineering.

The 2023 Staffordshire Chambers Business Awards were presented at a ceremony at the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in Stoke-on-Trent.

Rhys Newport, Finance Director at Lesters Group, the sponsor of the Science, Technology and Innovation Award, presented the trophy. He noted the “revolutionary and groundbreaking” product and its potential for long-term growth, as well as the “exceptional customer service” offered by the company.

Rob Hartley, PFE Medical Director, said: “The Khamsin has been incredibly well received by all of the key opinion leaders in the endoscopy field. It has long been acknowledged that endoscopes are incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to clean routinely and reliably. The Khamsin has changed all of that and will have significant benefits for patients worldwide. The development work carried out by the colleagues from Aston University was absolutely fundamental in solving this huge dilemma. The Knowledge Transfer Partnership was the perfect vehicle for the balance between PFE Medical understanding the requirements for the system and the expertise at Aston finding the solution.”

Dr Sutherland said: “The Aston University team is delighted to see the outcome of its research and engineering endeavours being beneficial to a company and hopefully more widely within hospitals and healthcare settings. It is testament to the KTP initiative which allows academics to do interesting research that translates into clinical practice and also has commercial benefits.”

Dr Worthington added: “It’s great to see KTP successes where novel ideas relating to improvements in healthcare practice can be explored though impactful academic research. The Aston team is delighted with the outcome of our research findings which will impact upon the way endoscopes are cleaned thus reducing the potential for cross-infection in clinical practice.”