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5 August, 2020 - 19:37 By Tony Quested

Closed Loop Medicine wins £250k for blood pressure research

Closed Loop Medicine, the Babraham Research Campus therapeutics and health technology business, has secured a £250,000 COVID-19 Innovate UK Continuity Funding award to support its ongoing clinical research programme.

This was previously secured through the Innovate UK Precision Medicine Accelerator awarded to Closed Loop Medicine last year to develop a precision drug + digital therapy package for patients with high blood pressure; the next stage of the project was to enter into clinical studies in April this year before coronavirus intervened. 

The study is being run in partnership with the William Harvey Clinical Research Centre, Queen Mary University of London, part of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre at Barts (BRC).

The COVID-19 pandemic saw a nationwide pause and review of clinical trials so CLM’s study was placed on hold as the pandemic broke out. During the early stages of the pandemic, research highlighted the potential for a link between COVID-19 mortality and high blood pressure. 

This has now been reinforced through a recent Nature publication led by Ben Goldacre and Liam Smeeth, that analysed 17 million medical records to show that there is a link between COVID-19 mortality and patients with high blood pressure. The paper calls for more research on this connection.

Dr David Collier, the lead investigator and clinical trial experts from Queen Mary, modified the trial so that there are no in-hospital visits and for all clinical interaction to occur remotely ensuring volunteer safety during the pandemic. 

He said: “This was only possible because of our close partnership with CLM. We already knew their dedication to working with our existing patients to develop a truly useable digital app. 

“But in lockdown the CLM development team worked tirelessly to enable COVID-19 symptom tracking in addition to the existing hypertension monitoring features of the App.”.

The new trial for the COVID-19 setting is longer and requires far more patient volunteers as well as increased costs for the delivery of the study.

The PERSONAL-COVIDBP study will bring personalised treatment of blood pressure to a thousand patients in their homes, testing ways of adding carefully tuned medication to those who need better blood pressure control, even during lockdown or restricted movement. 

The longer-term goal is to improve blood pressure control; to be able to do this medication adjustments need to be responsive to patient symptoms, saving thousands of lives through fewer heart attacks and strokes. 

Recent research has indicated that better outcomes can be achieved by lowering blood pressure even more than that currently recommended by health providers.

Dr Felicity Sartain, COO & co-founder of CLM said: “It was critical to us to work closely with David, his team at the Barts Cardiovascular Clinical Trials Unit and patients to ensure we developed a new trial that was safe and would benefit patients during the pandemic.”

The Innovate UK Continuity grant was part of a £90 million support package made available to support current Innovate UK project participants to ensure their continuity in and completion of existing projects during COVID-19. 

The grants are direct grants for single SMEs or third sector organisations who have an ongoing project funded by Innovate UK.

Dr Hakim Yadi, CEO & co-founder of Closed Loop Medicine said: “We are very grateful to Innovate UK and UK Government in recognising the impact COVID-19 has had on important projects like this. 

“We’re looking forward to working with Innovate UK and our collaborators at QMUL on this critical study. We hope to be able to add new research to the analysis on the link between COVID-19 and high blood pressure.”

CLM is currently working on treating sleep disorders and hypertension but in the future will be working on other health problems.

By focusing on individual care pathways, CLM can augment proven drugs with digital therapeutics enabling the digitisation and data capture of an entire care continuum for dynamic personalised regimens.

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