Inspiring Innovation is our monthly roundup of news from a thriving innovation landscape collated by our Sector Intelligence Team. It fuels our ambitions to elevate Wales as a place of choice for health and social care innovation and investment.
This month, we’ve seen life science companies shine at the Wales STEM Awards, collaborations formed to develop advanced medical technologies, and a breakthrough in breast cancer prevention in England.
Life Science Companies win big at Wales STEM Awards 2023
There were 13 awards up for grabs at this year's Wales STEM Awards. Life Science companies and individuals shone within the competition and swept up four of the awards, including:
Innovation in STEM Award – Afon Technology
Afon Technology are developing Glucowear, a non-invasive, continuous blood glucose monitor.
STEM Company of the Year (under 50 employees) – CanSense
CanSense are developing a blood test for bowel cancer, reducing the need for patients to undergo invasive colonoscopies to diagnose their disease.
STEM Sustainability Award – Genesis Biosciences
Genesis Bioscience develop a range of antimicrobial products for applications such as surface sanitisation, food industry waste treatment and wastewater treatment.
Liz Brookes, Co-Founder of Wales STEM Awards said:
“It’s been incredible shining a spotlight on the STEM sector in Wales. Our winners are pushing the boundaries of STEM innovation and helping address the diversity gap and skills shortage that exists”
A huge congratulations to all of the winners and nominees!
Cardiff University and Siemens Healthineers agree strategic alliance
Cardiff University have entered a partnership with Siemens Healthineers to develop advanced medical technologies, with a focus on imaging and in vitro diagnostics.
This partnership centres around Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC), who use magnetic resonance machines developed by Siemens to image and research neurological and psychiatric conditions such as dementia, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia.
CUBRIC houses an MRI system, a scanner specially adapted by Siemens, that’s capable of imaging the microstructure of a brain to reveal the neurological connections that underpin brain function in finer detail than conventional systems.
Professor Ian Weeks, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Head of the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences said:
“This collaboration will transform how we use our collective expertise in imaging, clinical laboratory diagnostics and data science to develop integrated diagnostic methods for the earlier and more accurate diagnosis and treatment of disease.”
Existing breast cancer therapeutic repurposed as preventive drug approved for use in NHS England
Women at increased risk of breast cancer in England could now benefit from a proven risk-reducing drug made available on the NHS, after it was licensed in a new use to help prevent the disease.
Thanks to work by NHS England’s Medicines Repurposing Programme and pharmaceutical company Accord Healthcare, the drug Anastrozole, which is used as a breast cancer treatment, has now been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) as a preventive drug. The drug reduces the incidence of breast cancer in post-menopausal women at increased risk of the disease by almost 50%.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, with more than 56,000 people diagnosed each year, and 80% of these diagnoses are in women over 50.
There’s been no news as to whether Anastrozole will be made available to at-risk women in Wales.
Amanda Pritchard, NHS Chief Executive Officer, said:
“It’s fantastic that this vital risk-reducing option could help thousands of women and their families avoid the distress of a breast cancer diagnosis. Allowing more women to live healthier lives, free of breast cancer is truly remarkable.”