Health news weekly: from medtech for Parkinson’s to new genetic testing

November 4, 2022

We know it can be difficult and time-consuming to wade through all the news about healthcare (much of it doom and gloom) which is why we’re here to keep you up to date with all the latest news, discoveries and innovations in our weekly round-up:

UK’s largest ever healthcare study to improve disease prevention

A publicly funded scheme called Our Future Health has launched, which will be analysing the health data of 5 million people in an effort to improve the prevention, detection and treatment of diseases such as dementia, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and strokes. The research aims to collect and analyse medical samples from 5 million people across the UK using a technology called ‘gene array’, looking for trends and patterns that are associated with specific diseases. 

The scheme will also receive additional investment from healthcare companies like AstraZeneca, and the research will be launched in collaboration with charities including Cancer Research UK and the Alzheimer’s Society.

Startup developing medtech to help Parkinson’s sufferers joins forces with QMUL

The Charco Neurotech startup, founded at Imperial, is teaming up with Queen Mary University of London to test its device designed to alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson’s.  The CUE1 device is designed to be worn on the chest, from where it can deliver vibrating pulses aimed at reducing slowness, stiffness and freezing of gait, resulting in improved movement for the wearer. 

Charco Neurotech will now work with academics at QMUL on research as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership, a programme by Innovate UK which offers companies funding to access academic expertise from universities such as QMUL, Imperial and others across the UK.

New NHS genetic testing service ‘could save thousands of children’ in England

A new genetic testing service that makes it possible to analyse blood, saliva and tissue samples far more rapidly will make it possible for doctors to gain vital insights within as little as two days into the illnesses of more than 1000 newborns and infants a year.

Until now, it has taken up to several weeks for doctors who suspect genetic disorders in infants and newborns to obtain results from tests. NHS England believes these new tests have the potential to save the lives of thousands of children, and will mark the beginning of a new era of genomic medicine.

Pancreatic cancer could be diagnosed up to three years earlier

A new study from researchers at the University of Surrey and the University of Oxford used a dataset of 10 million people to identify signs and patterns in those affected by pancreatic cancer, in the hope of better diagnosing a disease that is often symptomless until fairly advanced. This new study – the largest of its kind – has identified with more precision than ever before how changes in BMI and glucose levels could indicate pancreatic cancer significantly earlier than is currently the case. 

New innovation lab to tackle major healthcare challenges

The Health Challenge Lab is a new collective made up of professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal, the Royal College of Art’s Service Design School and non-profit innovation group Fuzzy. Together, they seek to address some of the biggest challenges facing the healthcare industry, with an initial focus on responding to the burgeoning mental health crisis in the UK.Other areas likely to be explored as the lab evolves include cancer and oncology, neurodiversity and inclusivity.

The model encourages collaboration between leading public sector, non-profit and for-profit organisations that specialise in human-centred design to devise innovative solutions for the healthcare sector that are economically and technically viable. 

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