Upfront Diagnostics secures over £790,000 to develop and evaluate their test for severe stroke
Large vessel occlusion (LVO) strokes occur when a major artery in the brain is blocked. Every year, throughout the world, more than 4 million people suffer a sudden stroke due to LVO. These account for only 30% of total stroke cases but are responsible for most of the disability and deaths. In the UK, only 24 specialist regional hospitals can treat LVO. Therefore, most patients are first transported to a non-specialised hospital and need to be transferred to gain access to treatment. This leads to some patients receiving treatment late, or not at all, when compared to patients who live near to a regional centre.
Upfront Diagnostics Ltd, a UK based company, has identified a set of measures, including two blood molecules, that can detect LVO. We are collaborating with Professor Chris Price and Dr Lisa Shaw, from the Newcastle University Stroke Research Group, and the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria (AHSN NENC). Together we helped Upfront Diagnostics Ltd. secure phase 1 funding in February 2022 from the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) Healthcare programme. The phase 1 funding was used to develop these measures into a portable test that hopes to identify patients who have had a severe stroke with very high accuracy.
The second phase of funding, awarded in January 2023, is being used to produce the test in large quantities and evaluate its accuracy in a real-world patient population. We are supporting the company with statistical analysis of the clinical study and by providing a public perspective through input from our insight panel. We are also conducting health economics studies to examine the impact of the test financially and on patient management.
Other collaborators on the project include the NIHR Clinical Research Network for the North East and North Cumbria, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Northumbria University, North East Ambulance Service, Abingdon Health and Qarad.
Potentially the test could allow direct ambulance transfer of patients to regional hospitals for significantly faster specialist treatment, thereby reducing disability and costs. The project is funded through a nationwide call by SBRI Healthcare. The competition was developed in partnership with the Stroke Association, the AHSN Network and the Accelerated Access Collaborative. This collaboration has awarded over £5 million to seven innovations that support patients who have had a stroke.