Medtech Accelerator, the joint funding venture between Health Enterprise East (HEE), Eastern AHSN (Academic Health Science Network), New Anglia Local Enterprise Partners and local councils, has announced its latest award of £125,000 to develop a new approach to cervical screening.
Developed by a team of researchers based at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Cambridge, this latest grant means that, since its inception in 2016, Medtech Accelerator has now fully committed £1.7 million of funding to 14 technologies.
The latest award will provide funding to a Cervical Patch Sampling Device that screens for HPV (Human Papillomavirus) which can cause cervical cancer. The new device has been developed to improve detection results by enabling non-invasive evaluation of all the cells at the cervical surface while preserving their orientation.
While HPV screening has led to a significant reduction in cervical cancer occurrence, current approaches have a low positive-predictive value meaning many women would be referred for secondary testing and possible treatment unnecessarily. By allowing women to be diagnosed in the community in one test, it is hoped this novel sampling approach will help reduce further testing referrals and unnecessary possible treatment, saving critical NHS time and money.
Medtech Accelerator is a joint venture led by HEE, in partnership with the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP), Local Growth Fund administered by Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority, the Eastern AHSN (Academic Health Science Network) and Essex County Council.
Funding is intended to support innovations through the early stages of development, and for this innovation, the £125,000 award will support design and development to deliver a working prototype of the patch sampling device. The project will be separated into four phases of work, with the first phase ensuring prototype plans are suitable for testing on mannequins and other models in the next two phases. The fourth stage of the project will include health economic and regulatory assessments, as well as patenting.
Dr Anne Blackwood, CEO of HEE, said: “We are so pleased to add this new technology to the Medtech Accelerator’s impressive portfolio of ground-breaking medical devices supported over the last four years. The new approach to cervical patch sampling has real potential to further improve cervical cancer screening, and we look forward to seeing the benefits it brings to both clinicians and patients.
“That all the technologies have the potential to make a significant impact in a wide range of medical fields and can attribute success to early stage support from the scheme, is something we are hugely proud of. The achievements of the Medtech Accelerator are testament to how an innovation business model based on developing solutions to known unmet clinical needs can deliver tangible results within short timeframes.”
Lead inventor on the project, Dr. Robin Crawford, Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (CUH), added: “The cervical patch sampler provides a significant possibility to improve cervical screening by introducing a pain free test, using our better understanding of the science underlying the evolution of cervical cancer and incorporating a biomarker and machine learning process to provide rapid reliable results. Following impressive news about the efficacy of the HPV vaccine in reducing cervical cancer we need a leap forward in the screening technology in cervical cancer management such as the cervical patch sampler.”