There’s never been a more important time for innovation in pharmacy.
Whilst we strive to give patients confidence in their prescriptions, each year the NHS spends more than £1bn treating people for medication-induced adverse events.
The concept of ‘personalised medicine’ was first coined in the early 2000s. It was predicted that patient-specific therapies would be commonplace by 2010. In reality, beyond a few important examples in the fields of oncology and HIV, patients are still largely treated with a one-size-fits-all approach.
One major factor stalling progress is a lack of technologies that truly enable ‘patient stratification', which is the subdivision of patients into groups based on their risk of developing specific diseases or their response to therapies. If we can develop smarter diagnostic technologies we can deliver bespoke treatments to the right patient groups at the right time.
I completed my PhD at the School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2011. Since then I have worked on several 'precision medicine' projects, focussing on sensing platforms that can accurately and rapidly diagnosis disease and stratify patient populations.
My first postdoctoral project, initially funded through SARTRE’s Bio-E initiative, ended up being the most exciting. Working under the GW4 umbrella with collaborators from the University of Exeter, we sought to transform a technique for the diagnosis of malaria into a process that could diagnose many healthcare conditions. It involves exploiting magnetism to detect specific disease markers. It’s a simple, yet elegant technology that has been proven to be sensitive and robust.
In 2014, we recognized a chance to develop our work through Innovate UK's Medical Technologies Launchpad Wales. The call was open to all companies, from start-ups to established SMEs, and was too good an opportunity to miss. Myself, Dr Chris Allender and our collaborators from Exeter, Professor Dave Newman and Dr Raphael Matelon, made the decision to spin the technology out. Cotton Mouton Diagnostics Ltd (CMD) was formed in December 2014.
The most exhilarating moment was securing the Launchpad grant in March 2015, which was matched by the Cardiff Partnership Fund. It was a moment of sheer excitement; we were finally off the ground. We had 18 months to develop the technology to the next stage: a multiplex platform targeting the rapid diagnosis of sepsis.
Sepsis is a devastating condition resulting from the body’s exaggerated response to infection. It kills one person every few seconds, with the risk of death increasing by ~7% for every hour taken for diagnosis. Despite this, no clinically useful diagnostic tools currently exist. We hope CMD technology will address this urgent and growing medical need.
We’ve since secured further funding though Innovate UK’s Aid for Start-ups scheme, which has allowed us to move our labs into the GE Innovation Village. We’ve also recruited a Chief Executive Officer to drive the business forward and taken on extra scientific staff. It’s been a whirlwind start and I’ve learned a huge amount. I look forward to the future with excitement, determined to make CMD a success.
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