A new method for extracting prostate biopsies has been awarded a £789,000 Invention for Innovation (i4i) Product Development Award by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

CAMPROBE (Cambridge Prostate Biopsy Device) is a pioneering medical device designed to increase the safety and accuracy of prostate biopsies with the potential to change current practice.

Standard trans-rectal prostate biopsies carry significant risk of side effects such as urinary infections and severe sepsis as the needle crosses the bowel a number of times on the way to the prostate.

The CAMPROBE enables biopsies to be performed through the more sterile transperineal route under local anaesthesia in an outpatient setting.

In pilot trials the device resulted in no infections compared to rates of 5-12 percent from the current transrectal biopsy method, while 80 percent of men said they preferred the novel approach and would recommend it to a relative or friend.

The i4i Award will help progress CAMPROBE from a prototype through further clinical evaluation and CE marking, the hope being that it will be ready for market launch in around three years’ time.

“Its use in hospital outpatient departments will mean a positive change in the experience of patients referred with suspected prostate cancer and will lead to a much safer way to diagnose the disease,” said project lead Mr Vincent Gnanapragasam, a consultant urological surgeon who first came up with the idea.

“This improvement will be of potential benefit to the tens of thousands of men who have prostate biopsies every year in the UK.”

The project is a collaboration between Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge University, HEE, JEB Technologies and North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust

“We have been involved in the development of CAMPROBE from an early stage, and are delighted to have helped secure this significant NIHR i4i Award,” commented Dr James Clulow, innovation manager at Health Enterprise East (HEE).

“It was a highly competitive process and shows how HEE works in collaboration with NHS Innovators to develop their ideas, help secure investment and ultimately, bring new technologies to patients.”