Chemotherapy patients could soon be able to check their vulnerability to infection thanks to work being done by a Cambridge-based company.
Neutrocheck has been awarded £125,000 towards the development of a home testing kit by Medtech Accelerator, which is led by innovation hub Health Enterprise East (HEE) as a joint venture with New Anglia LEP and other partners.
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 funding 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.”
Since its inception in 2016, it has now committed £1.4 million of funding to 13 potentially life-enhancing technologies. Led by HEE, in partnership with the LEP, Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority, Eastern AHSN and Essex County Council, it 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.