Macmillan Cancer Support has invested £100,000 in 52 North Health, a med-tech start-up developing a device that can detect neutropenic sepsis in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
A side effect of chemotherapy is suppression of the immune system. As a result, even a mild infection can cause a patient to become severely ill and develop a condition called neutropenic sepsis – which can be fatal. Currently, patients are advised to go to A&E if they develop symptoms. However, 50% of these visits for neutropenic sepsis are false alarms.
The NeutroCheck device pairs with a digital app that allows patients to monitor for neutropenic sepsis at home. The test, a lateral flow from a blood finger prick, will provide accessible at-home monitoring. According to the company, it will help alleviate emergency room pressure and reduce costs both to patients and healthcare providers.
Remote patient monitoring devices are becoming fundamental avenues of healthcare provision as digital innovation transforms the medical landscape. GlobalData predicts that this market will reach $760 million by 2030, up from $548.9 million in 2020 with a CAGR of 3.3% over the ten years.
“We strongly value the patient experience, and it has always been important to us to ensure that the test is as accessible as possible,” 52 North Health co-founder Dr Saif Ahmad told Medical Device Network. “The app will have functionalities which simplify use, such as enabling patients to take a photo of the device to automatically interpret the result.”
The venture investment from Macmillan will fund the Cambridge, UK-based company’s clinical validation trials, which are set to begin later this year and is the first in a new scheme aimed at driving innovation in cancer care.
Macmillan is one of Britain’s largest cancer charities and aims to inject £3.5m into med tech start-ups through 2023 and 2024 as part of the new impact investment fund.
“We want to increase the impact that innovations have on people living with cancer,” said Tanya Humphreys, Head of Innovation Partnerships at Macmillan Cancer Support.
“We will be investing in a wide range of opportunities all within cancer care, but we also want to influence and lead the charitable sector and other organisations to invest in innovation.”
Humphreys shared that Macmillan is planning to target innovations around liquid biopsy, virtual care, and helping transform treatment to improve patient experience undergoing therapy.
Depending on the clinical validation trials, NeutroCheck already has a strong potential to be distributed widely across the NHS to patients undergoing chemotherapy.
“We already have interest from a number of NHS Trusts and support from the East of England Cancer Alliance,” CEO and co-founder Umaima Ahmad told Medical Device Network.
“We are also working with the UK Sepsis Trust to put together a new clinical pathway so that it is easier for the NHS to implement nationwide.”
Macmillan Cancer’s new impact investment programme follows that of Cancer Research Horizon’s (part of Cancer Research UK) seed investment fund which is in the process of growing to £30m to finance start-ups. According to the charity, to date they have helped form 60 medical technology companies.