£10 million invested in cancer and chronic health conditions

Innovate UK and the Office for Life Sciences (OLS) announce support for innovation in chronic conditions and cancer.

Innovate UK and OLS will invest £10 million in 17 projects as part of the advancing precision medicines competition. The OLS funding is part of the life sciences vision cancer mission.

Precision medicine offers new ways of treating disease based on individual patient characteristics and can enable earlier and more accurate diagnosis of diseases, including cancer.

The funded projects will draw together diagnostic information from a range of sources that when integrated allow more accurate diagnosis and treatment allocation. The projects focus on oncology, musculoskeletal and cardiovascular disease, and other chronic conditions.

Early detection and personalised treatments in cancer

Several projects are using artificial intelligence or machine learning either to better diagnose diseases and predict patient outcomes or to help clinicians choose the most effective treatments for individual patients.

One project is developing a blood test that will help predict which patients with advanced breast cancer will benefit from new therapies. While another is looking at how treatment of patients with pancreatic, kidney and lung cancer can be improved.

A further project will test if it is possible to predict which patients with cancer are at risk of developing neutropenia when being given chemotherapy. Neutropenia is a common, but serious side effect, where the number of white blood cells is reduced so patients are more vulnerable to infection.

Intelligent devices

Several projects involve the development of wearable, intelligent devices. One example is a smart headband designed to stop teeth grinding and jaw clenching, a common and painful condition which affects about a third of adults.

Arrhythmia, or heart rhythm problems, affect more than two million people a year in the UK and certain types of arrhythmia can be fatal. At least some of the 100,000 deaths caused by arrhythmias each year in the UK could be avoided with earlier diagnosis. One funded project is developing a smart garment to detect arrhythmia quickly and less invasively than current methods.

An early indicator of heart failure is swelling of the feet, with symptoms often starting around two weeks before patients are admitted to hospital.

If clinicians could remotely monitor foot volumes, it would allow earlier intervention and reduce the need for treatment in hospital. One project is developing a way to use optical sensors to remotely monitor foot volume to allow doctors to identify which patients need further treatment.

Saving lives and growing life sciences sector

Minister for Science, Innovation and Research Andrew Griffith said:

Pioneering technology can be key to UK researchers achieving breakthroughs that tackle some of the hardest-to-treat illnesses, such as cancer and heart difficulties.

This investment in funding for projects across the UK will harness artificial intelligence and more cutting-edge tech in ways that could ultimately save lives while growing our world-class life sciences sector.

Driving better diagnosis and treatment

Dr Stella Peace, Executive Director for the Healthy Living and Agriculture Domain at Innovate UK, said:

Innovate UK supports businesses with the very best ideas, enabling more of us to live longer healthier lives, either through the earlier diagnosis of disease or by developing treatments tailored to our needs. These projects highlight the broad spectrum of approaches that UK innovators are developing to improve patient care.

Delivering on the cancer mission

Cancer Mission Chair and NHS England National Clinical Director for Cancer, Professor Peter Johnson, said:

Accelerating the development of innovative diagnostic technologies forms a key pillar of the UK Government’s Cancer Mission. We are delighted to partner with Innovate UK to co-fund a cancer portfolio as part of this competition. We hope these projects will, in the future, enable patients to be diagnosed earlier and more accurately, allowing them to receive the life-saving treatment they need.

Further information

Cancer mission

The cancer mission was identified as one of the key healthcare missions in the 2021 Life Sciences Vision.

The missions are intended to apply a Vaccine Taskforce-type approach by bringing together industry, academia, the third sector and the NHS to collaborate to make progress in these disease areas, by:

  • advancing early disease prevention, diagnosis and monitoring
  • developing breakthrough products and technologies to save lives

Funded projects: cancer

Artificial intelligence (AI) imaging and data integration platform for patient-optimised diagnosis and precision medicine in prostate cancer

Project lead: Lucida Medical Ltd

Project partners:

  • University of Cambridge
  • Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

NISTA: a novel non-invasive, data-enabled machine learning tool enabling earlier and more accurate diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, stratifying patients into more personalised treatment pathways to improve outcomes

Project lead: EosDx UK Ltd

Project partner: University of Ulster

Beacon: a companion diagnostic for cyclin dependent kinase inhibitors

Project lead: Proteotype Diagnostics Ltd

Project partner: University of Southampton

Large language models based algorithms for personalised cancer detection

Project lead: Abtrace Ltd

Project partner: BCS Clinical Consulting Ltd

OncoSelect: machine-learning enabled precision-oncology tool for renal cell carcinoma

Project lead: M:M bio Ltd

Project partner: Weatherden Ltd

High accuracy multi-biomarker screen for the early detection of lung cancer

Project lead: Life Science Group Ltd

Project partners:

  • Aberystwyth University
  • ProTEM Services Ltd
  • Highfield Diagnostics Ltd
  • Valley Diagnostics Ltd

PREDICT-ONC: precision risk evaluation and G-CSF dosing for chemotherapy-induced neutropenia tool

Project lead: Physiomics Plc

Project partners:

  • Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Beyond Blood Diagnostics Ltd

Funded projects: musculoskeletal and cardiovascular disease, and other chronic conditions

Transforming heart failure care

Project lead: Heartfelt Technologies Ltd

Project partner: University of Glasgow

Personalising rhythm management using AI enabled clothing technology with integrated sensors (PRACTISE)

Project lead: Kymira Ltd

Project partner: Imperial College London

Pioneering Smart Biofeedback Therapy for M-TMD

Project lead: Jawsense Ltd

Project partner: Nottingham Trent University

Clinical validation of osteosight: AI technology for incidental detection of osteoporosis

Project lead: Naitive Technologies Ltd

Project partner: Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital

IMPILO-AI: intelligent monitoring of prosthesis conditions in lower limb amputees, advancing innovation

Project lead: PST Sensors Europe Ltd

Project partners:

  • Bio-flex Yarns Ltd
  • Ulster University

An integrated approach to Alzheimer’s disease diagnostics harnessing liquid biopsies and combination AI modelling

Project lead: CFDX Ltd

Project partner: Hyper Unison Ltd

LOCOME – long-COVID and myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome diagnosis and stratification

Project lead: PrecisionLife Ltd

Project partners:

  • The University of Edinburgh
  • Action for M.E.

Intelligent decision support for faster, more effective and lower-cost precision medicine for hypertension, cholesterol and diabetes with co-morbitities (ExpertCare)

Project lead: DXS International Plc

Project partner: Eastern Academic Health Science Network

QuBIE: quantitative biomarker identification for non-endoscopic prediction and monitoring of treatment response in eosinophilic oesophagitis

Project lead: Cyted Ltd

Project partners:

  • East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust
  • Nottingham University Hospitals Charity
  • County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust

Transforming diabetic kidney disease care: harnessing integrative multi-omics analysis for precision diagnosis and management

Project lead: Multiomic Health Ltd

Project partner: Queen’s University of Belfast

Top image:  Credit: BlackJack3D via Getty Images

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