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Cancer patients to help trial ‘life saving’ home testing kit

Addenbrooke’s hospital is helping to trial a new home-testing device to check if cancer patients are at risk from a serious side effect of chemotherapy.

The NeutroCheck® involves a finger prick blood test and is designed to tell doctors whether patients are likely to develop the life-threatening condition Neutropenic Sepsis (NS).

NS kills three people across England and Wales each day, with all patients undergoing chemotherapy advised to go directly to A&E if they feel unwell and where they can be given strong precautionary antibiotics and a full blood test.

However not all patients do this, resulting in some not receiving treatment quickly enough. Meanwhile of those who go to A&E with concerns, around half are found not to be at risk.

Accident and emergency sign outside hospital
Emergency Department

By contrast NeutroCheck aims to be a convenient and accurate test, with a small portable device linked to a digital platform driven by artificial intelligence (AI), enabling a quick blood test at home to give an instant assessment.

This will help doctors prioritise treatment for those at greatest risk from NS and allow others not at harm to stay at home or be seen in the community, freeing up healthcare resources, keeping patients safe and saving money.

The trial is a collaboration between Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH), Macmillan Cancer Support, the UK Sepsis Trust and med-tech development company, 52 North Health, partnered with UnifAI Technology which provides the AI-powered digital reader.

The trial follows a £1.2m Government Innovation UK Smart Grant award to 52 North Health, made in recognition of “game-changing ideas” in areas including health and well-being.

Hugo Ford head and shoulders
Dr Hugo Ford

Dr Hugo Ford, lead cancer clinician for Cambridge University Hospitals, said

This grant provides essential funding to perform the clinical validation study, which will begin next summer and involve about 250 patients.

Dr Hugo Ford

“The results will underpin a submission for regulatory approval in the shape of UKCA and CE marking, which would allow us to test NeutroCheck using the device in an at-home setting for around 30 patients. This will in turn enable us to build an evidence base to support roll-out of the NeutroCheck solution across the NHS.”

Intensive care doctor and founder and chief executive of the UK Sepsis Trust, Ron Daniels, said “Although sepsis can affect people of any age, certain groups of people are at higher risk, and none more so than those undergoing chemotherapy.

These patients are already going through enough trauma, so any device designed to guide as to whether or not they need to seek urgent hospital assessment is invaluable – not to mention the positive impact on a stressed NHS

Ron Daniels

Chief executive officer of 52 North Health, Umaima Ahmad, added:

We are delighted to be collaborating with a brilliant and diverse set of partners on this important project, which will further propel the value of the NeutroCheck solution and take it through its first clinical trial.

Umaima Ahmad

“This endorsement, our second Smart Grant from Innovate UK, is so important and allows our brilliant teams to focus on getting the NeutroCheck innovation to as many patients as possible throughout the country.”

Listing image by Alex Zibb from Pixabay