Medtech Accelerator, a joint venture between innovation hub Health Enterprise East (HEE), Eastern AHSN (Academic Health Science Network) and regional business partners to support medtech pioneers, has announced an award of £125,000 to Cambridge-based company NeutroCheck, to progress development of an at-home safety monitoring test for chemotherapy patients.
The hope is that NeutroCheck will enable patients to test the levels and potential activity of a key blood cell which is supressed (called a neutrophil) at home, therefore gauging their vulnerability to infection. Treatment for chemotherapy patients supresses their immune system, meaning they are at increased risk of infections, including neutropenic sepsis which can be a life-threatening medical emergency requiring immediate hospital admission. Spotting the early signs of neutropenic sepsis would enable patients to get to hospital as quickly as possible and get the treatment they need, potentially saving lives.
Dr Saif Ahmad, a clinical oncologist at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and Director of NeutroCheck Limited, is credited with the idea behind the innovation. Commenting on the award, he said:
“We are delighted to have been given this boost to develop our innovation and progress our prototype. We hope NeutroCheck will enable patients to quickly, accurately and simply check their neutrophil count in their own home from a finger-prick of blood. This will give them reassurance about when to go to hospital and avoid unnecessary hospital visits as currently half of patients who present do not have reduced neutrophils on their hospital blood test.”
This latest award means that, since its inception in 2016, Medtech Accelerator has now committed £1.4 million of funding to 13 potentially life-enhancing technologies. Led by HEE, in partnership with the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP), Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority, Eastern AHSN and Essex County Council, the joint venture was launched to support innovations through the earliest stages of development by facilitating proof of concept work, such as prototype design, initial testing, clinical evaluation and pilot production.
Alongside financial assistance, Medtech Accelerator also gives innovators access to technical expertise, to help them scope out the market opportunity and confirm the commercial viability of their devices. The collaborative structure of the project means that unmet clinical needs within the NHS can be accurately pinpointed and that medtech innovations that offer solutions to these problems can be fast-tracked to market.
Commenting on the £1.4 million milestone reached by Medtech Accelerator, Dr Anne Blackwood, CEO of HEE, said:
“Over the last four years, Medtech Accelerator has built up an enviable track record: 13 pioneering technologies in various stages of development can attribute their success to early support from the scheme, and that’s something we are hugely proud of. These technologies all have the potential to make a dramatic impact in a wide range of medical fields, including cancer surgery, endoscopy and anaesthesia. We look forward to the roll-out of more Medtech Accelerator-backed devices and to seeing the benefits they can bring to patients and clinicians.”
Commenting on the recent award, Dr Louise Jopling, Commercial Director Eastern AHSN, stated:
“The purpose of Eastern AHSN is to turn great ideas into positive health impact and we are committed to nurture innovation from within the East of England and build a diverse portfolio of medical device companies. We hope this funding and the wider support of our team of experts will help progress this innovation to improve patient safety through enabling the speedy referral of patients requiring urgent care as well as improve quality of life for patients by reducing unnecessary and sometimes stressful hospital visits.”
James Palmer, Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, added:
“There never was a more vital time to come up with new tools for healthcare. I’m proud that the Mayoral Combined Authority has helped bring this innovative and potentially life-saving product closer to market. The Local Growth Fund is all about helping adventurous new ideas take flight and the Mayoral Combined Authority is committed to firing up the trailblazing spirit and offering businesses a platform for growth in these very tough times.”