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The first ingestible capsule for eradicating Helicobacter pylori infection through photodynamic therapy

Project description

Stomach cancer meets its match in a photoactivated oral capsule

The discovery in 2005 that almost all cases of peptic ulcer disease were caused by a previously unknown bacterial species, Helicobacter pylori, garnered the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine the same year. We now know that this bacterium is also responsible for most gastric cancers, and it is very difficult to eliminate with antibiotics. The EU-funded Capsulight project is supporting the Italian SME PROBIOMEDICA in developing a pioneering patented therapy that relies on an oral capsule and its activation by light. Compared to antibiotics' 70 % efficacy, preliminary results suggest that it is almost 100 % effective at killing the bacteria; therefore, it could be the solution that will stop stomach cancer in its tracks.


Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacterium of the stomach which affects on average 50% of the world population, reaching up to 70% in some European Countries. Once it is diagnosed, it has to be eradicated, since it is a carcinogen agent and around 90% of all gastric cancers can be attributable to its infection. The only available treatment is a pharmacological therapy based on the assumption of proton-pump inhibitor and a mix of 2-3 antibiotic drugs. Unfortunately, due to increasing antibiotic resistance, up to 30% of the affected population cannot be cured, despite several cycles of antibiotic therapy and usually endoscopic biopsy to determine antibiotic-resistance. Probiomedica is a spin-off of the University of Florence and Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna specialized in photobiology and robotics applied to medicine, which has developed and patented CapsuLight, the first ingestible capsule able to eradicate H. Pylori infection through intragastric photodynamic therapy, that is through the power of light. The device is based on the established technology and safety of endoscopic capsules for diagnostic use, and our preliminary in vitro tests showed 97% efficacy in killing the bacterium. The advantages for infected population are unparalleled: the possibility to eradicate the bacterium for those who cannot be cured due to antibiotic resistance (our first target market); the higher efficacy rate, no side effects due to antibiotic cycles, and easy posology for all the infected population (secondary market). CapsuLight will also provide high economic savings to National Healthcare Systems, by reducing drug therapies cycles and endoscopic biopsies and related costs for hospitalization. Probiomedica has already presented the product to several gastroenterology and microbiology centers and will optimize the capsule design for further miniaturization and mass production, and to undergo the necessary clinical validation for getting the CE mark during the Phase 2 project.

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Net EU contribution
€ 50 000,00
Via di bellosguardo 2 rosso
50124 Firenze

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The organization defined itself as SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) at the time the Grant Agreement was signed.

Centro (IT) Toscana Firenze
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Other funding
€ 21 429,00