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.
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.
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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