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1 May, 2020 - 12:30 By Kate Sweeney

£125k for startup behind home test for chemotherapy patients

Cambridge technology company NeutroCheck has been awarded £125k to progress development of an at-home safety monitoring test for chemotherapy patients.

The backing has come from Medtech Accelerator – a joint venture between innovation hub Health Enterprise East, Eastern AHSN (Academic Health Science Network) and regional business partners to support medtech pioneers. 

The hope is that NeutroCheck will enable patients to test the levels and potential activity of a key blood cell which is suppressed (called a neutrophil) at home, therefore gauging their vulnerability to infection.

Treatment for chemotherapy patients suppresses 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.

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. 

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 £1.4m 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.”

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