Medical and healthcare innovation

2 August 2017 

Deadly gene mutations removed from human embryos in landmark study. Scientists have modified human embryos to remove genetic mutations that cause heart failure in otherwise healthy young people in a landmark demonstration of the controversial procedure. The work focused on an inherited form of heart disease, but scientists believe the same approach could work for other conditions caused by single gene mutations, such as cystic fibrosis and certain kinds of breast cancer.

July 2017 

Seeing the Light. Conventional histopathology is destructive of biopsy tissue, and doesn’t always provide enough information for accurate diagnosis and grading. “Slide-free histology” by light-sheet microscopy may change the game. Traditional tissue processing for histopathology calls for an array of protocols – fixing, cutting, staining – and cannot be done while leaving the sample intact. Not only does it require a lot of time and labor, it can also pose problems down the line if questions still remain – or if the pathologist’s ability to make an accurate diagnosis is affected by the limited information available. Is there a better way? A group of researchers from the University of Washington think so – and they’ve developed a method of examining tissue samples nondestructively with light-sheet microscopy.

11 July 2017 

Interim Results from a Phase 1/2 AAV5-FVIII Gene Transfer in Patients with Severe Hemophilia A. An important clinical question in the management of patients with severe hemophilia A (HA) is whether the successful transfer of the F8 gene (BMN 270) could significantly benefit these patients. However, the size of the gene and other factors have limited the success of this approach–until now. In a Late-Breaking Session on Tuesday, John Pasi, Ph.D., F.R.C.P., F.R.C.Path revealed results of the first successful gene transfer in humans for the treatment of severe HA. Data available on patients followed for up to 52 weeks post–gene transfer of the 6x1013 VG/kg dose were presented.

29 June 2017

How genetic and molecular innovation in pathology will improve NHS outcomes for patients. The march of the genetic revolution has seen the understanding of the human genome grow at an exponential rate, surpassing traditional development time lines. Diagnostic and pharmaceutical companies are having to play catch-up with the opportunities and benefits this area of medicine has to offer patients, clinicians and the wider population. The diagnostic paradigm is set to change, no longer will genetic testing be the final confirmatory test of a proposed diagnostic hypothesis, that has been shaped by countless other traditional pathology tests, but the starting point. It will become the basis of a personalised treatment plan for that individual or even whole families from birth to head off a genetically described future disorder.

20 June 2017 

£5.1 million investment places innovation at the heart of Leicester. The Leicester Innovation Hub, a £5.1m dedicated creative incubation and innovation space in the heart of the city, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), will provide an easy to find ‘front door’ to the University’s innovation support, expertise and facilities. The University will provide access to a range of expertise that includes:

  • Precision (Personalised) Medicine - Support to access specialist expertise (Cardiovascular, Respiratory, Diabetes, Cancer, Infection, Immunity and Inflammation), clinical trials facilities and technologies to develop, test and launch new personalised medicines, products and technologies. 
  • EMBER (East Midlands Breathomics Pathology Node) - Support to access non-invasive breath analyses subsidised expertise, support and grant through Medilink East Midlands SoLSTICE (Smart Life Sciences Technology Innovation & Commercialisation Enabler) project, part-funded by European Regional Development Fund 

16 June 2017 

New web calculator to more accurately predict bowel cancer survival. While current methods of estimating mortality can be crude, patients with bowel cancer could soon more accurately predict their chances of survival, thanks to a new web calculator developed by academics at The University of Nottingham and medical software company ClinRisk Ltd. The new tool, which can be accessed by doctors and patients alike, is intended to help people make more informed decisions around treatment and manage expectations following diagnosis.

12 May 2017 

Diagnosing deadly diseases. University of Cambridge engineers and scientists from Fluids in Advanced Manufacturing and Cambridge Analytical Biotechnology groups have joined forces to develop an on-the-spot low-cost tool for the rapid diagnosis of infectious diseases. Research team member and Gates Cambridge Scholar, Cassi Henderson, explains how the new technology could save lives in developing countries where there is little or no access to medical pathology laboratories and specialist technicians.

5 May 2017 

PanelApp reaches 150 diagnostic-grade virtual gene panels. The Genomics England PanelApp – our public crowdsourcing tool for evaluating and sharing rare disease gene panels – has now reached 150 virtual gene panels at version 1 or above. This means that the ‘green genes’ on these panels can be used in the analysis of rare disease genomes in the 100,000 Genomes Project, helping to find a diagnosis for patients and their families.
The publicly-available gene panels (or lists) are first created by our team of curators. PanelApp then allows gene panels to be reviewed online by clinicians and scientists. This vital community knowledge is used to establish a consensus diagnostic-grade gene panel for each rare disease in the 100,000 Genomes Project.

30 April 2017 

AI in Medicine: Rise of the Machines. Researchers at Google were able to train an AI to detect spread of breast cancer into lymph node tissue on microscopic specimen images with accuracy comparable to (or greater than) human pathologists. Looking for tiny deposits of cancer on a specimen slide can be challenging — like trying to find a single unusually shaped house in a stack of satellite photographs of an entire city.

21 April 2017 

Spin-out gets set to launch finger-prick diagnosis for anaemia. The company’s technology incorporates a range of optical and image analysis techniques to perform a blood count from a pinprick within 60 seconds. In a number of the company’s products, the reading is sent to the cloud so it can be directly uploaded into patient records and accessed by physicians.

11 April 2017 

Cell specificity screen for safety assessment of novel immunotherapies. CAR T-cell therapy involves engineering a patient’s own immune cells to recognise and attack a specific tumour. As the therapy works by harnessing the immune system, it is crucial to ensure that there are no unintended interactions that could promote an inappropriate immune response with potentially fatal consequences. Using cells provided by a leading clinical stage T-cell therapy company, Retrogenix has now developed an off-target profiling methodology that screens whole T cells for interactions against thousands of human plasma membrane protein targets.

16 April 2017 

Swansea University smart bandage trials ‘within 12 months’. Bandages which can detect how a wound is healing and send messages back to doctors could be trialled within the next 12 months, scientists have said. The bandages would use real-time 5G technology to monitor what treatment is needed and also keep track of a patient's activity levels. The work is being led by Swansea University's Institute of Life Science. It forms part of the £1.3bn Swansea Bay City deal which aims to create a 5G test hub for digital innovation.

12 April 2017 

CE mark granted to urine test for bladder cancer. The new test performed with superior results over all other non-invasive tests examined in a European multi-centre study for bladder cancer monitoring. Nucleix develops non-invasive molecular cancer diagnostic tests based on identification of subtle epigenetic changes in methylation patterns. Nucleix technology is based on a combination of a new biochemical assay in conjunction with sophisticated algorithms. The Nucleix pipeline includes a screening diagnostic blood test for early lung cancer detection.

11 April 2017 

Could a new approach to kill cancer at nanoscale work? A laser weapons physicist has come up with a novel treatment for the disease – blowing up the cancer cells in infinitely small explosions. These explosions are carefully designed to obliterate cancer cells at a nanoscale, with a level of efficiency and safety which far outmatches the current treatments of choice.

7 April 2017 

POC Assay developed for reliable blood grouping. Rapid and accurate blood grouping plays a critical role in multiple scientific disciplines, particularly in the biological and medical sciences and especially for pregnancy, blood transfusion, and bone marrow transplantation.A fast, accurate, and versatile paper-based blood test has been developed that could be performed without the need for specialized equipment providing a more cost-effective strategy for blood grouping. The blood typing assay is based on the color change that occurs when a common pH indicator dye reacts with blood.

6 April 2017 

Technology developed for prostate cancer diagnosis and monitoring. Early diagnosis of prostate cancer and evaluation of appropriate treatment options requires development of effective and high-throughput selective capture technology for exosomes that are positive for the expression of enzyme-biomarker, prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA). Technology under development will provide a non-invasive approach for diagnosing prostate cancer and tracking the disease's progression and it could enable doctors to determine how cancer patients are responding to different treatments without needing to perform invasive biopsies. Bioengineers at Washington State University fitted a mat of tiny glass springs with specially designed biomarkers that attract the fatty droplets of proteins and RNA that tumor cells shed into body fluids. The droplets, called exosomes, contain genetic information that can be analyzed to determine a cancer's molecular composition, even how far it has advanced. Exosomes are small secreted vesicles that play a key role in intercellular communication and cancer progression.

4 April 2017 

‘Electronic skin’ to monitor your health. Researchers in Japan have developed "electronic skin" with an organic circuit that can be worn on the human body. It is 10 times thinner than a skin cell and lighter than a feather. It has many potential uses including monitoring your health, it could be worn as an electronic tattoo or in the future generate a television picture on your hand.