Business Kuopio


Device developed by Marginum revolutionizes cancer surgery


Kuva: Paula Pohjamo

Marginum Ltd has started clinical trials on patients in Finland to test a monitor that helps detect cancerous tissues during surgery. The aim is that the device could be used globally in the treatment of cancer.

The tissue detection system developed by Marginum is based on multidisciplinary research done by the University of Eastern Finland, the Neurosurgery Clinic at the Kuopio University Hospital and the Microsurgery Center of Eastern Finland.

The invention was born as part of the doctoral thesis of Samu Lehtonen, CEO at Marginum. He studied how fluorescent biomarkers could be detected more effectively in brain tumour surgery. The results were so promising that Lehtonen and his team decided to found Marginum in 2020 so that the technique could be applied in practice.

“If all goes well, within a year our product will be used in several university hospitals,” says Lehtonen.

Multidisciplinary approach is useful in development

The device developed by Marginum informs surgeons whether the removed tissue is cancerous. The technology will first be used especially in brain cancer surgery. The monitor gives an auditory signal when cancerous tissue removed by the surgeon passes through a suction tube. Patients are given a drug before surgery that causes a light reaction in cancerous tissue, which the monitor then detects, helping the surgeon identify which tissues should be resected during surgery. The idea is to enhance the surgical workflow and cause minimal damage to healthy tissue.

The technology is expected to have a concrete impact on health care costs, because the need for revision surgery is expected to decrease.

“We have received extremely positive feedback from surgeons. They feel that the device simplifies their work and reduces the risk of complications. Our device helps them remove cancerous tissue more precisely than before,” says Lehtonen.

The product development team of the company consists of an engineer and three physicians, one of whom is a neurosurgeon. In the past six months, the multidisciplinary team has grown even stronger with the recruitment of experts in both science and business economy. The multidisciplinary approach has proven useful in the development of the device.

Sights set on the global market

The device is still under development, but the plan is to obtain a CE marking within a year. The company has recently closed a seed funding round, raising over 1.0 million euros in private capital, and it also received a product development loan of 700,000 euros from Business Finland. These funds will be used to finalize product development and prepare for market entry.

“We have taken several measures to protect the intellectual property of the device and the technology. Along with pharmaceutical development, we expect the market to grow enormously due to the increasing number of available biomarkers,” says Lehtonen.

The company has its sights set on the global market, where it plans to expand with an initial patent it has already applied for. The product will first be launched in the Nordic countries and in Europe, but the goal is to also enter the US market in the upcoming years.

The company plans to develop new versions of the device for other types of surgeries besides brain cancers. The technology will be scaled to liver, ovarian and gastrointestinal cancers, where biomarkers have already been identified.

Thorough groundwork pays off

Lehtonen feels that moving forward with enough speed and agility has been extremely helpful for the company and its product development. The technology was developed as far as possible before the company was founded. The team was aware that monthly costs would start running as soon as the company was founded.

“We put off the founding of the company for as long as we could. Thorough groundwork pays off when your business gets started. And of course, it’s much easier to run a company if you have a good product and a need for it,” says Lehtonen.

Cooperation with regional networks:

Marginum Ltd is part of the Kuopio Health Ecosystem and also works in cooperation with other networks in the region whenever they can spare the time from product development. CEO Samu Lehtonen describes Marginum’s multidisciplinary team as highly dedicated and skilled.

“Kuopio has been a good place for our company to develop this technology,” says Lehtonen.

Text: Minna Akiola
Photos: Marginum & Paula Pohjamo