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Improving Outcomes for Lung Cancer and Diabetic Patients

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A breath test to detect lung cancer, and a wound dressing that brings oxygen directly to the wound, were highlights of Cambridgeshire MEP Vicky Ford's tour of technology companies working with the NHS to produce new innovations.

Owlstone’s chemical detection technology is being developed to measure the trace chemicals present in the breath of lung cancer patients. The quick and easy to use breath test technology has the potential to detect cases earlier, and allow more effective and less expensive treatments. The project estimates it will save the NHS £82m each year.

Inotec AMD is developing an oxygen therapy device for non-healing diabetic foot ulcers. Diabetic foot ulceration currently costs the NHS around £540m per year. In the UK, and globally, there is an epidemic of diabetes and these costs are set to spiral upwards rapidly in the coming years. This continuous day and night treatment can be used to heal or reduce the size of diabetic ulcers whilst the patient carries on with normal life. 

The two Cambridge-based companies have benefitted from reforms made in Brussels and championed by Vicky Ford, which have enabled small companies to co-develop solutions for large public sector buyers such as the NHS. Both technologies have been developed with support from SBRI Healthcare funding.

Vicky Ford said, “This breath test is effective and cost effective and is a credit to the scientists involved. Also deserving much praise are the local NHS staff who are determined to improve cancer detection and are seeking new solutions to assist their cause. So much innovation comes from small companies which is why I worked for rule change and these projects I believe are just the start of what can be done.”

Karen Livingstone, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Industry Engagement for the Eastern AHSN (the organisation with the responsibility for innovation and best practice adoption across the NHS in the east) commented:

“The NHS knows it can improve outcomes for patients through the use of new technologies and innovations.  Through the SBRI Healthcare programme we are able to fund the development of new technologies to address known needs. The SBRI Healthcare programme was initially funded with EU support but we have grown this Eastern success story into a national award winning programme.

“Eastern AHSN is supporting these companies to complete the development of their products and see their introduction into the NHS to improve patient care. In addition to enhanced health outcomes we will also see economic value and jobs brought to the eastern region as a consequence of this work.”