Ireland-UK, EIT Health Ireland-UK

Three Ireland-UK innovators advancing cancer care

2nd February 2023

Cancer, the second biggest killer in Europe, took the lives of approximately 1.9 million people living in Europe in 2020. Behind each of these statistics are families left behind. This February 4th marks World Cancer Day. Led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), World Cancer Day is a global awareness day that aims to “reimagine a world where millions of preventable cancer deaths are saved and access to life-saving cancer treatment and care is equitable for all.”

At EIT Health we are pledging €6M to develop new healthcare delivery models across therapeutic areas such as healthcare to cancer patients. In today’s blog we spotlight Ireland and UK innovators, supported by EIT Health, that are developing leading-edge technologies to combat this killer disease.

Europe accounts for one tenth of the world’s population, but a quarter of the world’s cancer cases. With incidence rates expected to rise over the coming years, the European Commission has set out Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, committing €4 billion in funding to tackle the entire disease pathway. The plan provides a clear starting point and is structured around four ‘action areas’ where the EU can add the most value:

  1. Prevention
  2. Early detection
  3. Diagnosis and treatment
  4. Quality of life of cancer patients and survivors

The plan cites research and innovation, digitalisation, and new technologies as mechanisms to achieve its aims. Meet three forward-thinking companies in our community dedicated to finding life-saving solutions across the ‘action areas.’

  1. An early detection solution from EpiCapture

Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer in Ireland and the UK. Survival rates are generally higher when the disease is diagnosed and treated early.

EpiCapture, co-founded by Dr. Antoinette Perry and Edward Simons and supported by NovaUCD, is aiming to transform cancer testing and improve patient experience. They offer a simple, painless and accurate urine DNA test that can detect 90% of aggressive prostate cancers. Rather than being sent for an invasive trans-rectal needle biopsy to test for cancer, patients can be screened through a non-invasive urine test that measures six epigenetic DNA biomarkers that are indicative of aggressive disease.

EpiCapture was a finalist in EIT Health’s Wild Card competition in 2022, and has since won several awards.

2. Advancements in diagnosis by Optellum

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in Europe. When diagnosed early, almost 90% of people with lung cancer will survive the disease for five years or more, compared with only 5% when the disease is diagnosed at the latest stage.

Optellum, an Oxford spin-out, has developed the Virtual Nodule Clinic. This AI-powered decision support software for lung cancer diagnosis provides a clinically-validated Lung Cancer Prediction (LCP) score based on imaging AI or ”Radiomics.” The technology has potential to increase lung cancer survival rates, enabling early intervention so that doctors can treat patients before the disease metastasizes to other organs.

The start-up’s advanced AI technology was developed as part of the EIT Health LUCINDA innovation project, and has recently been launched to market. In true trailblazer fashion, the team has secured clearance under CE-Medical Device Regulation in Europe, FDA in the US, and UKCA in the UK, the first software platform of its kind to achieve this.

Read about Optellum’s recent $14M Series A investment round, and collaboration with Johnson & Johnson and GE Healthcare.

3. Luminate Medical innovates to improve cancer patients’ quality of life

Predictions estimate that chemotherapy use is set to grow by 50% by 2040. 47% of current patients say hair loss is the most traumatic part of cancer treatment.

Galway-based Luminate Medical has a vision to help cancer patients live better, not just survive. They are working to end chemotherapy-induced side effects, such as hair loss and peripheral neuropathy, by revolutionising the patient experience through compression therapy. For example, the team of gifted scientists and engineers has developed a portable medical device wearable called “Lily” which is designed to help patients reduce hair loss during chemotherapy treatment. This has potential to ultimately change the face of cancer treatment.

Luminate closed a €5M investment round last year, and plans to start treating its first patients in early 2023. Winners of the EIT Health Catapult Audience Choice Award in 2022, the team celebrated its logo being displayed on New York’s Nasdaq Tower in October, along with a message of congratulations from Nasdaq.

Are you a health innovator working to develop solutions to leading chronic diseases, such as cancer? Check out our latest opportunities, from bootcamps to pitching competitions, here are our open programmes.

Alternatively, meet our team in person. We will sponsor the 19th National Health Summit in Dublin on 8th February. Contact us to set up a meeting or visit our exhibitor booth on the day.

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