Making it Work: How OneProjects hopes to ‘revolutionise’ heart treatment

Irish-German medtech company says its sensory imaging can dramatically improve treatment of heart condition affecting 38 million people

Fionn Lahart and Christoph Hennersperger, the founders of OneProjects which now has 17 full-time staff in Dublin and Munich

OneProjects, the Irish-German medtech company, claims its imaging sensory technology can “revolutionise” the treatment of atrial fibrillation – a condition that causes issues with heart rhythm and is a frequent cause of strokes.

Founded by Fionn Lahart and Christoph Hennersperger, the business has raised more than €18 million over the last year in equity and state grants and is planning further expansion in the coming months.

The company was conceived in 2017 after Dublin-born Lahart met Hennersperger at a healthcare innovation centre in NUI Galway. Four years later, it has 17 full-time employees and offices in Dublin and Munich.

It also has significant financial backing from both private investors and research bodies. As well as raising €11 million in a Series A funding round last year, OneProjects has been awarded EU and Irish state grants totalling €7.6 million.

Until now, atrial fibrillation (AFib, which affects more than 38 million people around the world) has been treated mostly via catheter ablation, a procedure that involves scarring tissues in the heart to block the abnormal electrical signals which cause the arrhythmia.

But that treatment, by itself, is only effective about 50 per cent of the time largely because surgeons performing ablations are often unsure of where precisely in the heart they’re administering the therapy.

The sensory imaging provided by OneProjects will, its founders say, help doctors navigate where they are in the heart while performing the treatment.

“This is unprecedented data from within the heart,” Lahart said. “They deliver their treatment, and we say: ‘Yeah, you’ve done it correctly’, or ‘no, you’ve missed a bit, you’ve left a gap.’ ”

Before its funding round in 2020, OneProjects partnered with Trinity College Dublin and NUI Galway through Enterprise Ireland’s commercialisation fund.

Verafaye, the sensory technology developed by the company, is currently in pre-clinical trials, and will move to clinical trials next year. It hopes to receive approval from the US Food and Drug Administration by 2023, with European authorisation also on the agenda.

OneProjects’ primary aim is to improve the treatments available to AFib patients, Lahart said. But it also aims to deliver savings to healthcare systems which spend huge amounts of money on treatment for the condition. A study in Britain found that AFib treatment could account for up to 4.27 per cent of NHS expenditure over the next 20 years.

The company is hoping to capitalise on a global shift towards what Lahart called “outcomes-driven healthcare”.

“It’s not enough anymore to just treat a patient, and if it doesn’t work you’ve tried,” he said. What you need to do is successfully treat a patient – for the patient themselves, but also because they no longer need to be in the healthcare system.”

Lahart said he and Hennersperger were always focused on finding a “big problem” and then solving it. AFib, he added, “was this huge global problem”.

“Stick a pin on any country on the map, and you’ll see this is a huge problem. And we knew that we could make a big impact – first and foremost on the patient, but also in taking costs out of the healthcare system.”