stroke prevention
UK patients will soon get access to life-saving medical technologies like blood tests for Alzheimer's, and lung conditions assessment apps as the UK government has announced new medtech funding for eight UK companies.

British people suffering from Alzheimer's, cancers and other life-threatening diseases could heave a sigh of relief as the UK government has allotted new funding for life-saving medical technology.

The Department of Health and Social Care and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have announced a £10 million funding package to eight UK tech companies to develop life-saving medical technology.

Amongst those who received the new funding is an ultrasound waves-focused device by HistoSonics which could be used to identify and destroy liver cancer rumours. The ultrasound waves generated by this device have the capability of destroying cancer cells without damaging healthy cells, ultimately offering a safer alternative to radiotherapy.

The UK government aims to improve the quality of life for UK patients and also reduce the burden on the NHS by reducing the necessity of hospital visits, and post-procedure complications. The ultimate objective of this is to make pain management easier for people suffering from life-threatening diseases in the UK.

This is seen as an attempt by the Sunak government to deliver its promise of making groundbreaking medical technologies available to UK patients at a faster rate which started with the NHS medtech blueprint announced last year.

Out of the eight selected companies, one UK medtech company is making Alzheimer's detecting blood tests while well-known companies like Roche Diagnostics Ltd have created a type of blood test (Amyloid Plasma Panel) which will help UK doctors decide if cognitive impairment patients need years or imaging for Alzheimer's.

Upfront Diagnostics received the UK government's new medtech funding to develop portable blood test systems for stroke patients. At present, ambulance workers and paramedics can't detect if a patient with a blood clot has blood flow or oxygen flow to their brain. This will help immediate treatment at stroke centres instead of rushing the patients to hospitals.

The MHRA is trying to cut down on stroke-related disability and associated costs along with lowering the burden of NHS A&E departments with this measure. This comes at a time when the MHRA has launched a new gene analysis study to provide personalised medication which doesn't have side effects to UK stroke patients.

Another recipient of the funding Lenus Health Ltd is developing an AI tool that can predict the need for hospitalisation in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease patients, a disease that blocks and damages the airways, making it difficult to breathe.

The AI tool predicts hospitalisation risks in UK patients using data collected by the company from wearable devices, sensors and apps. This considerably reduced the burden on NHS hospitals as patients can be monitored and treated quickly.

This comes at a time when the NHS reportedly used an AI tool to reduce cancer radiotherapy wait times.

Another company has launched Oximeters, a fingertip-clipped device that assesses lung conditions and the circulatory system at home and hospitals. However, some researchers are sceptical of its use as it isn't that effective in detecting oxygen levels in dark-skinned people.

Meanwhile, UK medtech company EarSwitch's oxygen level detecting device from the inner ear canal has also got funding as it can be used by people with all skin colours.

Several other medtech facilities are also benefiting from the funding like Avegen's Multiple Sclerosis fatigue app, 52 North Health's neutropenia self-test for chemotherapy patients, Presymptom Health's Algorithm infection predictor for Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS).

Medtech funding to equip the NHS

Speaking about the new UK Medtech funding, Health Minister Andrew Stephenson said: "NHS staff need access to the latest technology to deliver the highest quality care for patients and cut waiting lists – one of our top five priorities."

"These cutting-edge technologies could help thousands of patients with a range of conditions, including cancer, stroke, and Alzheimer's, while easing pressure on our hospitals and reducing healthcare inequalities," the Health Minister added.

"Our investment in these pioneering companies is part of our long-term plan for a faster, simpler and fairer health care system, and demonstrates our clear commitment to ensuring the UK is the most innovative economy in the world," Stephenson added.

The Chief Science and Innovation Officer of the MHRA Dr Marc Bailey said: "We are very excited to announce the final eight selected technologies in the new IDAP pilot scheme. This is designed to explore how support from the regulator, UK health technology organisations and NHS bodies can accelerate the development of transformative medical devices from their initial proof of concept through to uptake in the NHS."

"The pilot criteria prioritise patient needs in all aspects of decision-making and, by supporting innovative medical technologies, will ease pressure on the healthcare system. Most importantly, it's an initiative which could be life-changing for many patients," said Dr. Bailey.

The £10 million funding is part of the Innovative Devices Access Pathway (IDAP) programme which seeks to bring medtech to the forefront of the NHS. At present, the programme is in the funding stage where it is used to test new medtech which could scale up for a wider application.

The programme is jointly run by NHS England, Scottish Health Technology Group, Health Technology Wales, The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The Director of NICE Advice, Jeanette Kusel said: "Through IDAP and our support service NICE Advice, we aim to be a trusted adviser, providing tailored advice and supporting businesses along the whole product lifecycle helping them realise their ambition and helping bring the very best of innovation into the NHS and the hands of patients."

The Interim National Director of Transformation at NHS England, Vin Diwakar termed it "an important milestone" for the NHS, which ensures the best technologies and faster treatment through this programme.

"We will be working closely with our partners to support those companies selected for the pilot so that more game-changing, life-saving technologies are introduced quickly and safely on the NHS," said Diwakar.