viewPolarean Imaging PLC

Polarean Imaging on track to submit application for lung function scanner



  • Phase III delivered positive results
  • On track to meet regulatory timetable for new drug application

Quick facts: Polarean Imaging PLC

Price: 22.8 GBX

Market: AIM
Market Cap: £36.78 m


What it does:

MRI scans generally aren’t very useful in assessing lung function, but Polarean Imaging PLC (LON:POLX) is trying to change that.

The company has developed a drug-device combination which uses hyperpolarised 129-Xenon gas MRI. By inhaling and holding a small amount of the gas for just a few seconds, the patient is able to create a much stronger MRI signal, providing doctors with multiple images of lung structure and function.

Polarean, which is looking to sell the gas, the instrument which polarises the gas, and an associated quality assurance device, kicked off a trial of the technology last summer in two sites: Duke University and the University of Virginia and at the University of Cincinnati in June.

The trial is a 'head-to-head' non-inferiority trial testing 129Xe MRI against 133-Xenon (133Xe) scintigraphy.

In early November, the firm completed patient enrolment for Phase III of the trial with 80 patients, 48 of which are in a lung transplant pathway while the remaining 32 are for lung resection, a process where part of the lung tissue is removed. 

Both phase III trials met their primary endpoint, which means they succeeded in showing that Polarean’s technology was at least equivalent to an approved comparator called 133 Xenon Scintigraphy.

The data revealed that the company’s approach provided an effective measure of regional lung ventilation.

The readout will then form the basis for a pre-new drug application (NDA) meeting with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with a formal application to be lodged in the third quarter.

If approved by the FDA, the commercial launch is expected thereafter.


What the boss says: Richard Hullihen, chief executive

“Given the limitations of existing methods to diagnose and monitor lung disease, we see a significant unmet need for non-invasive, quantitative and cost-effective image-based diagnosis technology without exposing patients to ionizing radiation.”

“We believe that our technology has the potential to overcome these limitations and we look forward to using data from the Clinical Trials to support our New Drug Application."


Inflexion points

  • Latest research unit installed at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
  • FDA decision
  • Commercial launch


Blue sky

Pulmonary medicine and lung functions have been left behind in the diagnostic revolution that has seen MRI and CT scanning become the norm in oncology, for example.

COPD, IPF, emphysema, cystic fibrosis can all take years before the real cause of the problem is apparent and by that stage it is often too late.

“The annual burden of pulmonary disease in the US is estimated to be over US$150bn and Polarean expects over US$500mln in system sales just to top-tier institutes,” broker Northland said last year.

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