Two healthcare spin-out companies from The University of Nottingham have won funding to develop unique technologies which identify personalised treatments for cancer and patients at risk of a cardiac event.
Personalised medicine combines genomics, informatics, and high-tech imaging to diagnose problems more quickly and accurately, or prevent them before they can occur. It is poised to transform healthcare as we know it over the next few decades.
£190k funding to develop diagnostic tests
Platelet Solutions Limited and Nottingham Prognostics Limited have between them, won £190k from the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and Department of Health in a competition to develop new diagnostic tests to improve patient treatment. The money, which is provided through the SBRI innovation scheme, will enable each business to identify the health and economic benefits of the technologies, which will help them sell their products into the NHS and other healthcare providers.
Based in BioCity Nottingham, Platelet Solutions is the result of many years of research and experience in the cardiovascular medicine at The University of Nottingham. The focus of the company is platelet function testing in any healthcare setting.
1.4 million suffer from cardiovascular disease
Platelets form blood clots and contribute to thrombosis which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Each year, in England alone, some 110,000 people suffer from a stroke and 1.4 million people exhibit symptoms of cardiovascular disease such as angina.
People affected are usually treated with anti-platelet agents which are taken daily to prevent a thrombotic incidence occurring, leading to another stroke or a heart attack. Clopdigogrel is the most widely prescribed drug to treat the condition, however, it only works in 50 per cent of patients. Other drugs used to treat thrombosis, such as prasugrel and ticagrelor are very expensive, costing up to £50 per prescription.
A simple to use blood testing kit
To assess the effectiveness of drugs on patients, blood needs to be analysed, but the traditional tests for this are complicated and need to take place on fresh blood. To solve this problem, Platelet Solutions have developed a new, simple-to-use test kit which enables blood to be taken, fixed and subsequently analysed up to 9 days later. This opens up the opportunity for remote blood testing and patient’s blood to be taken in their homes or GP surgeries rather than a hospital setting.
Commenting on the award, Stan Heptinstall, a Director of Platelet Solutions, said: “We are delighted to have received this award. Acute coronary syndromes and stroke are leading causes of mortality and morbidity. In 2008, over 191,000 people died from vascular disease in the UK. Vascular disease is estimated to cost the UK economy around £30bn a year.
“We are confident that our test kit will not only help to save the NHS considerable amounts of time and money, but more importantly, it will ensure that each person receives the treatment that is right for them, therefore reducing the possibility of another serious cardiovascular event.”
Stratification of breast cancer patients
Nottingham Prognostics Limited, formed in collaboration with Nottingham Trent University and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, has developed an index, known as NPI+ which enables stratification of Breast cancer patients.
Their system uses protein biomarkers and novel algorithms to categorise the patient into one of seven distinct biological groups. This enables clinical staff to predict both the clinical outcomes and relevant therapeutic options in breast cancer more accurately than existing methods.
Professor Ian Ellis from Nottingham Prognostics, commented: “This is fantastic news for us. We have every confidence in the potential of our NPI+ index service, but in order to take the product to the next stage and prove its market worth, we need funding. This funding from the TSB and Department of Health will enable us demonstrate the economic and health benefits of using the NPI+ index which will hopefully help us to find new customers for our products and potentially new investors for our business.”
Potential for further funding
The money that Nottingham Prognostics and Platelet Solutions have won in the competition will enable each business to undertake a detailed assessment of the economic value of each of their products. There is also potentially further funding available through the competition for those products which are deemed to combine the best value and technical feasibility.
Speaking about the awards to the businesses, Dr Susan Huxtable, Director of Technology Transfer at The University of Nottingham, said: “It is always difficult for businesses launching new ideas and technologies to find the money they need to develop and grow, so this award is a tremendous boost for Platelet Solutions and Nottingham Prognostics. There was only a £1m fund available nationally for this competition, so for our businesses to be awarded almost £200k is a tremendous achievement.
“The products that the companies have developed are great examples of the kinds of innovative, technologies that are being developed here at the University. We always welcome the opportunity to meet with people who are interested in working with and supporting our spin-out businesses or licensing and developing new ideas.”
The best projects from phase one of the SBRI competition will go forward to the second stage, where grants will be awarded of the order of £1m to £2m per business, to enable companies to develop and commercialise their ideas.
For more information about The University of Nottingham’s services for business and the work of its spin-out businesses, visit www.nottingham.ac.uk/servicesforbusiness or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For details about Platelet Solutions visit www.plateletsolutions.co.uk and for Nottingham Prognostics Ltd visit www.nottinghamprognostics.com