By Kristy Dorsey

Medical technology firm Manus Neurodynamica has secured £1.2 million in fresh funding to accelerate the roll-out of a digital pen designed to detect the early onset of Parkinson’s disease, the fastest-growing neurological condition in the world.

The company, which employs eight people in Edinburgh, has raised the money from Northstar Ventures, SIS Ventures and Old College Capital, the University of Edinburgh’s venture capital fund. The cash has allowed Manus to appoint Euan Donald, former UK business manager for Siemens Healthcare, as its new director of commercial growth as the company prepares to roll out its NeuroMotor Pen later this year.

Northstar, which previously had a small stake in Manus, provided £500,000 this time around through its North East Innovation Fund supported by the European Regional Development Fund. New investor SIS Ventures joins existing supporters Northstar, Par Equity, the Scottish Investment Bank and Old College Capital with a total of £5m of investment to date in Manus.

Based on the research of chief executive Rutger Zietsma during his studies at the University of Edinburgh, the NeuroMotor Pen uses sensors linked with analytical software to analyse the slightest limb and hand movements to help doctors assess whether a patient has early signs of Parkinson’s or other neurological conditions. Designed as a low-cost alternative to brain scans, it provides a quick and non-invasive aid to early diagnosis which can be critical in slowing the progress of disease.

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Following a development contract with NHS England to create a version that can be used in GP surgeries, Manus is now in advanced talks to supply the pens to a leading UK-based primary care group. The patented technology has passed clinical trials with the NHS in the north-east of England and Scotland, and is currently being used by Northumbria NHS Foundation Trust.

The company also hopes to secure approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States within the next 12 months.

“We know that is a big market, and we know where in the health care process our product will be used, so the next step is regulatory approval,” Mr Zietsma said.

Set up by Mr Zietsma in 2008, Manus has signed a five-year contract with stationary brand Stabilo to manufacture the pens in Germany. The company will initially focus on sales in the UK, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Rob Halliday, fund manager at SIS Ventures, said the firm is one of Scotland’s “most promising” early-stage medtech companies.

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“With its disruptive technology, mission-led approach and ambitious management team, Manus is exactly the kind of business we look to invest in at SIS Ventures,” he said. “Working along with the other investors, we’re very pleased to support Rutger and his team through their next phase of growth.”

Mr Zietsma said 2021 looks set to be an “extremely busy” year for Manus.

“Having spent more than 10 years developing, trialling and refining our first product, we can finally look forward to seeing our NeuroMotor Pens implemented more broadly and making a real difference to the lives of people living with Parkinson’s and other neurological conditions,” he said.

“Through faster and simpler diagnoses and objective patient monitoring with digital record keeping, we can help streamline the pathway and deliver more successful treatment outcomes for the fastest-growing neurological condition in the world.”

Looking further ahead, Mr Zietsma said the company will diversify into other areas where the technology could be of use. Measuring the side-effects of anti-psychotic medication is one potential application, as it the technology’s potential in helping to diagnose Alzheimer’s.

“We are aware of patterns in our data that look very much like the effect of some of these other conditions,” he said.