News in Brief

News in Brief: Certific invest in remote diagnostics, blood test to predict leukaemia, investment for ORCHA and more

As ever, it’s been a busy week in the health tech community – read on to find out more about some of the top stories from the past few days.

Certific announces €7.4 million investment to advance remote diagnostics

Certific, a platform enabling remote medical testing at scale, has announced investment worth €7.4 million following a seed round led by Plural Fund. It is intended to support technology growth, product expansion and entry into new markets.

The investment came from Plural founders including: Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder of Wise; Ian Hogarth, co-founder of Songkick; Sten Tamkivi, co-founder of Teleport; and Khaled Helioui, former CEO of Bigpoint. It is part of a €250 million early-stage venture fund, with Plural seeking to problem solve through technology.

Dr Jack Kreindler, co-founder of Certific and honorary research fellow in self-care technology at Imperial College London, said: “Our purpose is to deliver medicine closer and faster to the billion+ ‘self-care capable’ patients in the world, and radically reduce the burden on their doctors & providers.

“This is only scaleable with technology – making every simple, self-administrable medical test and task radically easier, cheaper, and more accessible to do on-app, at home, without an appointment. Such systems are vital if we are to scale medicine – transforming healthcare through self-care as it were. Crucially Certific will be defining the standard for certifying ‘self-care practitioners’ against the toughest international med lab and clinical regulatory requirements.”

Maven announces investment in digital technologies specialist ORCHA

Maven Capital Partners has announced that the Maven VCTs have invested £1 million in ORCHA Health Limited, a Cheshire-based company assessing and distributing digital health.

Maven’s investment is set to support ORCHA’s expansion into new and existing markets, including developing an operation in the US and increasing its footprint in Europe.

“The business has created a truly unique platform that has both the potential to be a market defining offering and also improve the lives of millions of patients, globally, that are currently under-serviced by digital health,” said Dean Cox, Investment Director at Maven. “Coupled with strong market tailwinds, we believe ORCHA is well placed to capitalise on the heightened demand from national and local healthcare providers, both in the public and private sectors, for accreditation and assurance in digital health.”

Liz Ashall-Payne, CEO and Co-founder at ORCHA, commented: “We are delighted that Maven chose to invest in ORCHA and our vision to improve the lives of people with the best digital health. The market is growing exponentially, and with Maven’s help, we are better placed to ensure people access only safe and effective products that will improve health systems and change lives.”

Age UK Hereford and Worcestershire partners with Antser to support care homes

Antser have partnered with Age UK Hereford and Worcestershire (Age UK H&W), a local charity and specialist in health and social care training, to conduct a quality assurance check on its handbook that focuses on delivering a trusted set of procedures to support vulnerable adults.

Sally Gillies, Adult Social Care Project Manager at Antser, commented: “Providing a set of high-quality procedures that have been assured by one of the UK’s leading charities for care, is the greatest tool we can provide care homes across the country. Their robust quality assurance, testing and testimony have assured us that we have developed a tool that will make a real difference to the sector and all the individuals it supports.

“Having informative, personalised, and expert knowledge at your fingertips can transform how care home staff at all levels deliver care for their service users. A comprehensive source of procedures and practice guidance for the whole service, not just the registered person. Where the focus isn’t solely on processes, but on core values and principles, implementing and embedding them service-wide to provide care that is truly outstanding.”

University of Aberdeen and Spectrum.Life launch enhanced mental health and wellbeing support for students

The University of Aberdeen has partnered with Spectrum.Life, provider of corporate and student mental health and wellbeing service, to improve their existing package of support.

The improved offer enables students to engage with mental health support 24 hours a day, for every day of the year through Spectrum.Life’s team of counsellors and psychotherapists, along with student-specific wellbeing support and a full suite of digital content including access to a digital gym and digital wellbeing series.

“We’re always looking for ways to enhance the level of mental health and wellbeing support available to our students,” said Nick Edwards, Acting Deputy Director of People and Head of Student Support at University of Aberdeen. “Working with Spectrum.Life we’ve been able to enhance our existing student support services to ensure that our students have access to immediate in-the-moment support which can work alongside our own services to ensure each student is getting the appropriate level of care for their situation at the right time.”

Dr. Emelina Ellis, Director of Clinical Operations at Spectrum.Life, added: “Student mental health and wellbeing is a major concern and priority for third-level institutions globally. The demand on existing, on-site resources is now greater than ever before.”

Study finds that blood tests could predict future risk of leukaemia

A study undertaken by researchers at the University of Edinburgh and Glasgow found that a blood test could predict the risk of developing leukaemia in the elderly population years in advance, by identifying changes in blood cell production. By identifying those most at risk, it should be possible to provide preventative or early treatment.

The researchers investigated how changes in fitness advantage that occur in blood production could provide clues to the risk of developing leukaemia, depending on the type of mutation that occurs.

Dr Tamir Chandra, a chancellor’s fellow at the MRC Human Genetics Unit in Edinburgh, said: ”We measured changes in the blood samples of 83 older individuals of the Lothian Birth Cohorts, taken every three years over a 12-year period. Using the combined knowledge of mathematicians, biologists and genome scientists, we set out to understand what these changes mean for our risk of developing leukemia as we grow older.”

The team combined this data with a machine-learning algorithm to link different mutations with different growth speeds of blood stem cells carrying these mutations, finding that specific mutations give distinct fitness advantages to stem cells measured in people without leukaemia.

The study findings were published in Nature Medicine, with the research funded by the Medical Research Council, Leukemia UK and Cancer Research UK.