Malignant ascites is ascites, which is caused by certain types of advanced cancer, including ovarian, breast, pancreatic, lung, liver, colon/rectum and lymphoma cancer. Existing solutions such as use of diuretics and a salt-restricted diet are rarely effective. The use of chemotherapy drugs delivered directly into the abdominal cavity may stop the accumulation of ascites, however the relief is temporary and the ascites inevitably reappears, thus requiring a repeated paracentesis for symptomatic relief.
To address this issue, the Zurich based Sequana Medical developed the «alfapump system», the first fully implantable battery-operated pump that automatically and continually moves ascites from the abdominal cavity to the bladder, where it is excreted naturally from the body. The implantation procedure can be performed in less than one hour and once implanted, patient interaction with the system is minimal.
In their study on the use of the alfapump system in malignant ascites patients, the company evaluated 17 patients who had been implanted with the alfapump in centres across Europe. The study demonstrated that the alfapump was effective in treating palliative patients affected by the disease and improved their quality of life.
Ian Crosbie, Chief Executive Officer of Sequana Medical, added: “These data build upon our extensive clinical and commercial experience with the alfapump in liver refractory ascites and support our growth strategy in malignant ascites. Patients with malignant ascites have a poor prognosis where the impact of ascites on their quality of life is significant, often reducing their ability to withstand further cancer treatments. There is therefore a highly unmet need for a therapy that manages malignant ascites and improves patients’ quality of life. We believe that these data demonstrate the compelling potential of the alfapump to improve clinical outcomes for malignant ascites patients.”
Christina Fotopoulou, a professor at Imperial College London commented: “The alfapump is a novel strategy offering a new opportunity for patients with refractory malignant ascites to have an improved quality of life and a lower need for hospitalisation, so that they can spend more time outside of a hospital environment. It is a very promising, minimally invasive technology that has the potential to significantly improve the quality of life of patients in a very difficult phase of their lives.”