Kidney care receives innovation boost

14 winners to share £3.6m moneypot to develop pioneering solutions addressing the life-changing effects of kidney failure

Pioneering solutions addressing the life-changing effects of kidney failure are now under development thanks to a national funding competition.

14 winners have been announced as part of a £3.6m competition funded by the Department of Health through the Small Business Research Initiative and managed by the National Institute for Health Research Devices for Dignity (D4D) Healthcare Technology Co-operative.

The aim of the competition is to help the 5,000 people diagnosed with kidney failure every year. There are currently 41,000 patients in England receiving treatment for kidney failure.

The loss of kidney function is a life-changing event that can result in lifelong dependence on healthcare services. Innovations in earlier diagnosis of kidney disease could reduce the number of affected individuals, while others can give patients with kidney failure greater independence and enable treatment closer to home.

Although end-stage renal failure affects only 0.05% of the general population, it commands 1-2% of the annual NHS budget.

Lord Howe, Health Minister, said: “Innovation is essential for improving treatments and finding new cures, so I am delighted that the NIHR Devices for Dignity HTC is awarding these funds to help develop technologies that can make a difference to patients suffering with kidney disease. This will also build on Britain’s reputation as a world leader in science, research and development. I look forward to learning more about the progress and success of this initiative now that these winners have been announced.”

Three of the 14 winners of the competition are aimed at the prevention of acute kidney Injury (AKI). It is estimated that 4.9% of hospital patients have AKI and severe cases are associated with a 10-20% chance of death within one year.

Innovation is essential for improving treatments and finding new cures, so I am delighted that the NIHR Devices for Dignity HTC is awarding these funds to help develop technologies that can make a difference to patients suffering with kidney disease

Another of the projects funded will see the development of a test for kidney disease progression in patients with diabetes, the most-common cause of kidney failure.

The remaining 10 successful projects aim to improve patient independence and quality of life. These spread across all areas of renal medicine from pre-dialysis, haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis to transplantation.

David Coyle, a patient who has suffered with kidney disease for more than 25 years, was a judge on the competition. He said: “I was delighted to be asked to use my kidney patient knowledge and experience as a judge on the D4D selection panel to identify innovative ideas to use technology to benefit patients.

“The competition has produced some truly excellent technology initiatives which, I believe, will greatly transform patient welfare and facilitate greater independence. D4D has found a winning formula to leverage technology for the benefit of patients at every stage of renal disease.”

The winners of the SBRI competition are:

  • University of Cambridge and SensorHut for the development of an innovative sensor that can detect early AKI by sensing volatile molecules in the urine at the bedside
  • Helier Scientific for the development of a sensitive test for urinary K-Cadherin, a marker of kidney disease progression in patients with diabetes
  • Jasmine Media Productions for a virtual 4D technology to increase patient confidence towards vascular access cannulation and promote self-care and home haemodialysis treatment options
  • Patientrack and Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust for an automated information technology system to calculate risk and alert clinical teams
  • DocCom Careflow - ensuring faster treatment of Acute Kidney Injury using secure messaging to deliver alerts to clinicians in real time and then enabling instant, mobile cross-team referrals and conversation
  • UK Renal Data Collaboration for delivering patient results in real time and modules to allow patients to flag up mistakes and changes in their medical records
  • East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust for a telemedicine platform to reduce patient hospital attendance
  • IF Sensing for a device for monitoring renal function at home using interstitial fluid allowing out of hospital monitoring of kidney function
  • Atlantis Healthcare for an online support programme using coping exercises to improve self-management in order to delay disease progression and aid shared decision-making around dialysis in order to reduce distress and decisional conflict
  • Randox Laboratories for a test for Aminoacylase-1, a biosensor for early transplant function
  • University of Leeds for an immunoabsorption system for patients due to have blood group incompatible transplants and can be used simultaneously with haemodialysis, reducing treatment time and time spent in hospital
  • Microsensor for infection sensors that can be incorporated into existing peritoneal dialysis products
  • Frazer-Nash Consultancy for a solution modelling the ‘dialysis day’ with the aim of minimising delays in haemodialysis patient treatment
  • 365 Response for a booking app for transport, one key factor for delays in haemodialysis treatment