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How are companies across the Bruntwood SciTech network improving access to better healthcare, medicines and treatments?

Office and Lab space at Birmingham Health Innovation Campus

This year’s World Health Day is all about building a fairer and healthier world, from ensuring there are equal opportunities to access good healthcare, to actually creating and developing better medicines, and diagnostic tools to improve our treatments and outcomes.  

The Bruntwood SciTech network is home to some of the UK’s most pioneering science companies, from small medtech startups and scaleups, all the way through to global life science companies that are uncovering world-leading discoveries, creating new medicines and shaping the future of our healthcare.

So who are some of the UK’s most innovative life science businesses at the forefront of helping to create a fairer and healthier world? 

Maxwellia, Kinomica and BiVictriX at Alderley Park

Earlier this year, Alderley Park based Maxwellia hit the headlines with its ambitions to make its contraceptive pill, Lovima, available over the counter without prescription.

Founder Anna Maxwell wants to give women more power to make informed decisions about their own health, addressing the findings by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in 2020 that over a third of women still cannot access the contraceptive services they need.

In an interview with Biocity Group, Anna said: “The goal is to improve access and choice with education so women can make decisions about their own healthcare.” “The existing prescription pathways via GPs or sexual health services will and absolutely should still be available. These are vital routes, but for many, these routes are either inconvenient or, in many cases, not available. Appointments can be very hard to get hold of; there can be a lot of hassle and, for some there is considerable anxiety in trying to access contraceptive services. 

“This is about creating additional routes to access self-care health services. As we get further along, it’s more and more clear to me the impact that we could have on women’s lives. ”

Also part of the cluster of world-leading life science businesses at Alderley Park is Kinomica and Bivictrix, two startups helping to significantly improve cancer treatment outcomes with new pioneering medical technology.

Having recently completed a £1m funding round, BiVictriX will progress its lead asset, BVX001, to provide game-changing new therapy for AML, a highly aggressive form of blood cancer which is notoriously difficult to detect and treat. BiVictriX’s technology helps to reduce the harmful side effects of chemotherapy treatment whilst increasing its potency by targeting a unique cancer-specific cell surface antigen fingerprint, absent from healthy cells. It's aim is to attack the cancer, not the patient. 

Kinomica is also helping to monitor the efficacy and response of certain drugs for specific cancers and tumors. Its cell signalling profiling service, KScan®, allows users to rank the activity of enzymes, called Kinases, in a tissue like a tumour, which add a phosphate group onto proteins and turn those proteins from their inactive form, to an active form. 

This allows KScan® users to predict a drug response much more accurately than using traditional genomic data, meaning that patient treatment and outcomes can be tailored to the individual, rather than using a ‘one drug fits all approach.’ 

Zilico at Manchester Science Park

At Manchester Science Park, Medtech company Zilico is developing the next generation of diagnostic devices to increase accuracy and deliver results in real-time for cervical cancer diagnosis. 

Despite robust cervical screening, HPV vaccination programmes and education, 870 women in the UK still lose their lives to cervical cancer each year and around 311,000 women worldwide. 

CEO of Zilico, Sameer Kothari said: “Cervical cancer is a preventable cancer, if we can diagnose it earlier. The changes to cells during the early stages of the disease are more subtle and therefore more challenging to detect visually. Our technology, Zedscan, provides clinicians with additional information and diagnostic confidence, meaning they can either treat women at first visit or, follow the ‘Watch and Wait’ pathway, or return patients to routine screening when no disease is present.

’"This medical technology works through the use of a non-visual technique which uses Electrical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS) to promote early detection, allowing the clinician to use appropriate early intervention which can prevent the disease from further progression.''

The company introduced ZedScan, a diagnostic in the cervical cancer pathway which is now being used routinely in 12 hospitals across the UK, including Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. University hospitals within Europe have also adopted the technology. 

Yourgene Health at Citylabs

Located at Manchester’s Citylabs campus, Global molecular diagnostics company Yourgene Health, is also improving diagnostic tools across reproductive health for women, precision medicine, infectious diseases and most recently have been using its state-of-the-art lab facilities at Citylabs to provide Covid19 testing. 

Yourgene Health’s Iona test is the first CE marked in vitro diagnostic (IVD) for prenatal screening, which allows clinical laboratories around the world to establish their own quality assured non-invasive prenatal screening service. It’s Non-invasive Prentala Screening Test (NIPT), Sage™, provides highly accurate screening results for a greater clinical depth of chromosomal conditions including trisomies, sex chromosomal aneuploidies, autosomal aneuploidies and some select microdeletions. As a result, women are able to make informed decisions about their pregnancy with no risk of miscarriage in the process of screening.

Recognize at Innovation Birmingham

Also helping the wellbeing of pregnant women and women who have just given birth is Nasra Hagi, based at Innovation Birmingham. After working as a nurse and midwife for years, Nasra founded Recognize with the aim of helping the struggle some women encounter before, during and after pregnancy which often goes unnoticed or isn’t spoken about. 

Nasra said: “Recognize Ltd is my response to years of frustration and concern. Ultimately my aim is for every mother to have free coaching, paid for by the NHS. In the meantime, I’m providing a workplace wellbeing programme and one-to-one coaching for perinatal women to offer a number of different options to those struggling.

“Since being located at Innovation Birmingham I have been connected to organisations such as the West Midlands Academic Health Science Network which is helping to get these services into the NHS.’’

It is thanks to these forward-thinking businesses and game-changing new technologies that our healthcare, and access to it, can be made more available and tailored to each individual. Whether it’s empowering individuals with more autonomy over their own health decisions, or providing better tools to improve the diagnosis speed, accuracy and outcome of certain diseases, we’re proud that our campuses are home to so many innovative minds that are paving the way for a healthier and fairer world. 

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