BioClavis: Enabling clinical utility of ‘omic testing to deliver personalised and cost-effective care within the context of today’s healthcare systems
BioClavis is a personalized diagnostics spin-out of US based BioSpyder Technologies. In early 2018, BioClavis set up at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) campus in Glasgow supported by a £3.4 million R&D grant from Scottish Enterprise. The parent company BioSpyder was set up in 2011 and developed a novel product for targeted sequencing called TempO-Seq™, a transcriptomic/ genomic platform technology.
BioSpyder considered a range of locations around Europe (in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands) but soon realised the QEUH in Glasgow was the best location for setting up BioClavis. The first key attractor was the scale and quality of clinical data and samples that they would be able to access. QEUH has one of the largest pathology laboratories in the UK and Europe, and a large biorepository which is networked to others across Scotland. The company also saw the networking infrastructure as a real asset of Glasgow, specifically the integration of industry, academics and clinicians at the Clinical Innovation Zone. The ability to interact with clinical researchers is quite different to the US, and the company has already created contacts with the main university departments in Scotland. The final main factor was the ability to attract high quality employees at a lower cost compared to other life sciences hubs.
The company currently has five employees and by the end of the three year R&D project the company expects to have around 40 employees. Since its arrival BioClavis has proven the power and versatility of its platform quickly establishing collaborations with Glasgow academics. The company is already collaborating formally with the MRC/EPSRC Glasgow Molecular Pathology Node at QEUH. It is also working informally with SMS-IC, clinical researchers and academics. These include clinical studies of inflammation, novel insecticide research to protect crop production and new monitoring tools in aquaculture to help salmon farmers.
BioClavis has been very impressed by the supportive environment for life science start-ups, and sees huge potential in developing Scotland’s Precision Medicine ecosystem. The company is already considering Scotland for small-scale manufacturing over the coming years, and sees similar opportunities for other start-up companies.
|“This exciting collaboration between NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and BioClavis will see us evaluating new technology for routine diagnostic use in NHS Scotland for lymphoma patients. Gene expression profiling is a methodology that the NHS must utilise in the future and working with BioClavis gives us the opportunity to do this.” Nicola Williams, Head of Laboratory Genetics, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
“We’re excited about working with such a great team combining leading lymphoma expertise, clinical knowledge and critical patient samples to potentially solve patient needs more effective and economically by applying our technology and assay design experience. I think it really highlights the collaborative environment in Glasgow - the “triple helix” in action!” Dr Harper VanSteenhouse, General Manager, BioClavis Ltd
CHART-ADAPT: Data-driven innovation for treatment of brain injury
Aridhia, based in the QETLC, are a leading supplier of collaborative data science platform services in healthcare, precision medicine, research and education. Aridhia’s proprietary AnalytiXagility is a secure data platform that can process data from clinical, genomic and social sources.
Head Injury is a devastating injury not only to the victim but also to their carers and to the society that supports their recovery, which is often long term. Unlike other forms of pathology including cancer, stroke or cardiovascular disease, there have been no proven effective therapies for brain injury.
CHART-ADAPT is a pilot collaborative programme of the SMS-IC involving the University of Glasgow, Aridhia Informatics Ltd, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde and Philips Healthcare to support the improved detection and treatment of brain injury. The project will develop Aridhia’s AnalytiXagility platform to investigate real-time data in patients with traumatic brain injuries.
Using anonymised data provided by the Neuro Intensive Care Unit at the Institute of Neurological Sciences at QEUH Glasgow, the collaboration aims to improve the down sampling of high frequency patient data which will inform clinical decision-making leading to improved clinical practice. One of the outcomes is drastically reducing the time taken to process the original data from 16 hours to 48 minutes.
An expanded project, named CHART-ADAPT (Innovate UK funding) is building on the pilot, using the improved algorithm and processing time to deliver a platform capable of implementing algorithms in clinical practice, together with an app which will be used at the patient bedside to help to inform on the best course of care for patients.
Preliminary testing of the infrastructure has begun and live data collection has commenced.
Once validated the framework can be customised for use by intensive care units elsewhere. The real value of the platform will be demonstrated upon seeing patient prognosis improving and treatment patterns evolve as the data-driven innovation has an impact in the clinical environment.
iCAIRD: A new Artificial Intelligence centre for Scotland to innovate and transform healthcare
The Industrial Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research in Digital Diagnostics, to be known as iCAIRD, brings together a pan-Scotland collaboration of 15 partners from across academia, the NHS, and industry. iCAIRD will be a Scottish centre of excellence and focus on the application of AI in digital diagnostics, ultimately enabling better and earlier diagnosis and more efficient treatment for patients. It is also predicted that iCAIRD will create new jobs centred around AI and digital technology in healthcare.
Centred at the University of Glasgow’s Clinical Innovation Zone at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, iCAIRD bring together teams across Scotland – in Aberdeen, St Andrews and Edinburgh – to enable joined-up academic and commercial technology development, alongside academic researchers locally and nationally. Partner companies in the University of Glasgow-led pan Scotland consortium, Canon Medical Research Europe Ltd and Philips, along with six SMEs, will provide more than £5M of additional funding to support iCAIRD, which received £10m funding from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
The centre’s work will deliver significant benefits for patients through the development of solutions for more rapid treatment for stroke; expert chest x-ray reading; rapid and more accurate diagnosis in gynaecological disease and colon cancer; and partly automated mammogram analysis for breast cancer screening.
Making use of the capability of modern computers to process the large amounts of data gathered in NHS healthcare clinics, iCAIRD will also allow clinicians, health planners and industry to work together and ultimately solve healthcare challenges more quickly and efficiently, and in a way that completely protects patients’ identities.
Building on significant investment across Scotland, iCAIRD will integrate with Health Data Research UK (HDRUK) and the national Picture Archiving Communication System (PACS) for radiology.
Founding iCAIRD partners are (in alphabetical order): Bering Ltd, Canon Medical Research Europe Ltd, Cytosystems Ltd, DeepCognito Ltd, Glencoe Software, HDRUK Scotland and Scotland’s National and Regional Safe Havens, Intersystems, Kheiron Medical Technology, NHS Grampian, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, NHS National Services Scotland, NVidia, Philips, University of Aberdeen, University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow (hub site of iCAIRD) and University of St Andrews.
|“We are delighted that iCAIRD has been awarded £10m from Innovate UK. With our pan-Scotland approach, we will build on existing strengths and deploy AI within NHS Scotland to transform diagnostics and healthcare in Scotland to improve outcomes for patients. This is a genuine collaboration between researches from Scottish universities, the NHS, and industry partners who are also contributing large sums to enable this project to be a success. Our aim is to transform digital diagnostic healthcare in Scotland, in order to benefit patients and make processes more streamlined and modern for the NHS.” Professor David Harrison, Project PI (St Andrews) visiting professorships - Glasgow and Edinburgh|
Kvatchii: Developing a digital precision medicine platform to improve healthcare
Kvatchii, founded by Professor Sandosh Padmanabhan, Professor of Cardiovascular Genomics and Therapeutics within the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences at the University of Glasgow, has a global vision to develop the next generation digital precision medicine platform to improve healthcare. The company has also recently taken space in the Clinical Innovation Zone and is contributing to the rapid growth of digital health, Machine Based Learning and AI across the Clinical Innovation Zone..
Kvatchii is based on a direct-to-consumer secure, personal, mobile, intelligent health platform acquiring data input from electronic health records to genomics and wearables with predictive analytics. The company has recently finalised its data analytics engine and is due launch the porotype version of its “BP and me” mobile phone app with partners in India this month. This mobile app is initially targeted to help patients manage their blood pressure remotely in countries like India with a fragmented healthcare system. By 2025 there will be 1.5 billion people worldwide with elevated blood pressure (Hypertension) and many of these are either undiagnosed or poorly managed. Kvatchii’s mission is to substantially improve this situation through working with healthcare partners to carry out more widespread testing and thereafter provide an “always on” support mobile based support service to manage blood pressure.
The patient management advice is based upon current best practice and distils 25 years’ experience of Professor Padmanabhan as an recognised research leader in the pharmacogenomics (drugs linked to patient genetics) of hypertension. In addition to providing real time advice and management of patients the Kvatchii platform will also act as a major new research resource enabling new pharmacogenomics clinical trials.
A particular interest is to inform new drug development and therapeutic interventions optimized to South Asian populations. To date most mainline hypertension treatments used worldwide have been developed using predominately Caucasian clinical trial populations. Kvatchii has recently submitted an application under the Newton Bhaba funding call for UK India translational collaborations to further these activities.
MR CoilTech: Driving innovation through designing, developing and manufacturing specialist radio-frequency (RF) coil devices for high field MRI Scanners
MR CoilTech was set up in Germany in 2015 by Dr Shajan Gunamony who was working as a research scientist at the Max Planck Institute in Tübingen. The company was formed to commercialise a radio-frequency (RF) coil device for the new generation of ultra-high field MRI scanners. The device contains an array of antennae that pick up signals from the body, which can then be processed by the MRI scanner to generate the MR image. The RF coil enhances the image that can be produced by the scanners.
MR CoilTech’s founder wanted to accelerate the development of the technology and had various options in the UK and US. The company moved to Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in 2016. A key attraction of coming to Glasgow was the facilities at the QEUH, notably the Clinical Innovation Zone and Imaging Centre of Excellence with its new 7 Tesla MRI scanner. This scanner is one of only 75 worldwide and Glasgow is the only site in the UK, where it is based in a clinical setting. This provides MR CoilTech with the opportunity to develop its devices to suit the requirements of clinicians.
The University of Glasgow has been very supportive of the company’s ambitions and has allowed access to clinicians and the facilities at ICE, provided lab space, as well as offering the company founder a permanent academic tenure. In its first three years, the company has generated annual sales of around £200,000 and has three employees. It has developed MRI coils for research institutes in the US and Netherlands and is also working with Siemens, the manufacturer of Glasgow’s new 7T MRI scanner. All of the company’s sales are exports.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), an accumulation of excess fat in the liver of people who drink little or no alcohol, affects 25% of the world’s population. Strongly linked to type II diabetes and obesity, it is the most common cause of chronic liver disease in developed countries and there is no approved treatment. Chronic liver disease is now the third most common cause of premature death in the UK. The progressive form of NAFLD, known as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), usually precedes liver fibrosis, liver cancer and premature death. Early recognition of the disease, monitoring progression, and effective treatment in patients is urgently required in order to reduce deaths from end-stage liver disease.
The Stratified medicine Scotland Innovation Centre (SMS-IC) and Eagle Genomics Ltd are working together on a ground-breaking project that could help develop new test and treatments for patients with NAFLD. Supported by £1.7m funding from Innovate UK the project will develop SteatoSITE, a Data Commons – a unified data system that allows sharing of genomic and clinical information from patients with NASH, making it more accessible for further research. The Data Commons, which will be the first in the world for NASH, will lead to a deeper understanding of which tests and treatments are most effective for individual patients. As more data is added, the Data Commons will evolve into a smarter, more comprehensive knowledge system that will assist important discoveries in chronic liver disease and increase the success of treatments for patients.
The Data Commons project will be led by SMS-IC’s industry partner, Eagle Genomics Ltd, an AI augmented knowledge discovery company. It also involves partners at the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, NHS Scotland and Glasgow and Edinburgh’s MRC Molecular Pathology Nodes. The collaboration pulls together world-class clinical expertise, data and access to research samples.
The project will involve genetic sequencing of 1000 liver biopsy samples from within the NHS Scotland’s biorepository network by Edinburgh Genomics, a global leader in DNA sequencing and genomics based at the University of Edinburgh. This new data will be combined with information from imaging, clinical and electronic health records.
Multi-disciplinary team meetings
University of Glasgow Clinical Innovation Zone: Enabling multidisciplinary collaboration
Multi-disciplinary team meetings (or MDTs for short) are an increasingly important part of care management for cancer patients in particular. The purpose of the meeting is to allow the complete team of people involved in the care of a patient to review and discuss all aspects of that patient’s situation to allow them to agree the best route forward for that individual.
In most cases, this involves a team of different specialists (e.g. oncologists, surgeons, radiologists, pathologists, nurse practitioners and others) reviewing data about that patient (e.g. imaging, lab tests, patient reported outcome measures etc.) and then agreeing the treatment regime, any additional tests or the onward transfer of the patient into rehab. As the data clinicians use in this system becomes more detailed and more varied (e.g. genomics) the task of aggregating and reviewing these datasets becomes more complex and time consuming, hence the need for more decision support tools that can support the MDT and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the clinicians and carers involved in the process.
Canon Medical are increasingly interested in Clinical Decision Support and Deep Learning based pattern recognition and jumped at the chance to get involved in a recent workshop session arranged by the University of Glasgow and NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde colleagues at the Clinical Innovation Zone.
This allowed an opportunity to present Canon Medical’s clinical cockpit concept and get valuable feedback on it, whilst meeting both practicing clinicians and academics to learn about current and emerging clinical practice in the use of MDTs and what tools will be needed in the future. Canon Medical were very impressed with the calibre of the group assembled in Glasgow and have encouraged other organisations to work with the CIZ team to get involved in similar events like this in the future.
|“At Canon Medical we believe in listening to the ‘Voice of the Customer’ to help us to deliver truly innovative solutions to previously unmet needs within the healthcare sector. However, to perform this process effectively within the NHS environment it’s essential for us to engage with both practicing clinicians who can talk about their current opportunities and challenges and research leaders who can provide additional insights into how clinical practice is likely to change in the future and hence what additional devices and decision support systems might be necessary. In this context it was great for us to engage with both groups of people at the recent event in the ICE building at the QUEH and to see how MDT meetings are structured at the moment and how they will morph in the future with the inclusion of more complex and detailed datasets. We’re very grateful to the team in Glasgow for organising this event and we look forward to attending similar meetings in the future.” Dr. Ken Sutherland, President, Canon Medical Research Europe|