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Entia: hand-held blood-testing lab for cancer care patients

Monitoring technology takes just a finger prick to carry out a blood test count that helps chemotherapy patients to manage their treatment.

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A London-based healthtech start-up has developed a hand-held blood testing kit that can be used at home by chemotherapy patients to tailor treatment to their specific needs.

Entia’s Affinity™ monitor can reduce cancellations for chemotherapy appointments and limit hospital visits just for blood count checks. And that means there are more chemotherapy slots for other people awaiting urgent treatment.

Entia is receiving a total of £1.14 million from Innovate UK, much of it through the Biomedical Catalyst, to work with The Royal Marsden Hospital on developing the Affinity monitor.

Miniaturised optical technology

It will be another 2 years before the system can be fully operational and implemented commercially but their collaboration has already been short-listed for the AXA PPP Health Tech & You Challenge awards. Toby Basey-Fisher, CEO of Entia, said:

The involvement of The Royal Marsden Hospital as one of the world’s leading cancer care centres has been absolutely critical. Having them on board has been a huge benefit.

The project allows Entia to validate its miniaturised optical technology through laboratory and user testing and generate cost-effectiveness data to support the case for commercial adoption.

It should also prove that an established cloud-based framework can be used to transfer patient data to the clinic’s electronic health records.

Built-in connectivity

Chemotherapy often reduces blood cell counts, exposing patients to infections, anaemia and other problems. Low blood counts, when discovered, are also the major cause of delayed treatment or reduced treatment dosage, as Toby explained:

The normal procedure has been for a patient to turn up at the hospital and take a blood test before undergoing treatment. But in 20% of cases they were being sent home because their blood counts were too low.

Our system is able to provide an accurate indication before they leave home that they are not ready to receive chemotherapy treatment. They can then reschedule and the appointment can be allocated to somebody else.

Using Affinity not only ensures that clinical pathways are fashioned around the individual’s needs but it also achieves a significant reduction in healthcare spending.

It is designed with built-in connectivity so that the individual, who may be elderly and very ill, does not have to worry about sharing information with health workers.

Improved quality of care

As a member of the Microsoft Accelerator programme Entia has access to world-leading support to create and enhance the cloud infrastructure that is critical to simplifying the patient’s treatment. Toby added:

We have as many designers as we have software and hardware engineers, because we believe that human-centred design must be at the centre of product development.

All the patient has to do is give a tiny sample of blood and the system takes care of everything else.

It is a very simple, elegant intervention that can have a huge impact on the quality of patients’ lives. Our solution not only improves quality of care but also promotes cost-effective treatment.

There are likely to be many other applications, and not just in cancer care, because blood counts are so widely used in hospitals and GP practices.

The only reason we are here is because of Innovate UK. The funding and support has been absolutely fantastic. I’d like to think we are a good example of why government investment in early-stage companies is so important.

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