The Technology Strategy Board's Stratified Medicine Innovation Platform works in partnership with six organisations seeking to drive the development and uptake of stratified medicine products and services in the UK.
The Technology Strategy Board will invest up to £50m in stratified medicine over the next five years, while the partnership of the Technology Strategy Board, the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, Arthritis Research UK, the Department of Health, the Scottish Government Health Directorate and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence will together invest around £200m in the area.
Stratified medicine aims to provide early and accurate diagnosis, and to identify the best treatment and disease management for patients. It moves away from a trial-and-error approach to healthcare, selecting the most appropriate therapeutic regime or other intervention, based on quality science, clinical evidence and economic value.
It encompasses the development and use of companion diagnostics that help to personalise patient care, and the use of a wide variety of other diagnostic tools to guide clinicians in selecting the best treatment options and care pathways for patients.
With many diseases, the probability of achieving a positive clinical outcome is far greater the earlier a disease is detected, and the earlier appropriate treatment can be given.
There is a considerable need for early and detailed characterisation of disease in inaccessible areas of the body, such as the brain, the abdominal and thoracic cavities, and the deep viscera/ soft tissues such as the pancreas and liver, where traditional biopsy procedures are either not available or not predictive, or where they carry high risk.
These challenges offer a significant opportunity to develop detector-related technologies that can be used on patients for diagnosis, or during medical procedures.
Other issues that affect the wider uptake of current technologies include variability in equipment and operators, lack of access to equipment and tracers, poor data ‘image' resolution, and a lack of the standardisation required for consistent diagnoses for patient stratification and follow-up. The ability to combine various technologies to allow better real-time imaging during surgery would also be of benefit.
This competition is designed to identify opportunities for patient stratification in areas of high unmet clinical need that use patient imaging, such as CT scans, MRIs and X-rays, and non-invasive approaches to detection that use, for example, pressure or impedance measurements, ultrasound or thermal imaging.
These are technological areas where the UK has a strong business capability, and where further development will bring great benefits for health services in the UK and abroad, as well as for the UK economy.
In recognising the potential of new and improved in-vivo imaging techniques and capabilities to advance stratified medicine, the competition is in line with the Technology Strategy Board's Stratified Medicine Roadmap.
Apart from developing new detection hardware, this competition is also open to technologies that will enhance current detection systems.
These may include the use of contrast agents, fluorescent ligands, radioisotopes for computer-aided tomography and nuclear magnetic resonance imaging, and ultrasound technologies within the healthcare environment, which will help in characterisation of patient pathology.
Improvements in software and digital analysis algorithms can also improve the resolution of current technologies and increase their use and effectiveness.
We are hoping to see collaborative projects which will develop imaging-related capabilities such as diagnostic tests for patient stratification, data analysis and selection of appropriate therapies, as well as determining the potential of these tests for commercialisation and implementation.