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MoD spin-out raises £1.5m to develop AI-driven sepsis and infection tests

UK start-up Presymptom Health has raised £1.5m in follow-on seed and grant funding that will help accelerate time to market of its AI-driven sepsis and infection tests - with the company aiming to roll-out its technology to the NHS from mid-2025.

Presymptom’s infection test was recently earmarked by the UK Government as a ‘breakthrough’ medical device under its £10m Innovative Devices Access Programme.

The funding round includes investment from UKI2S, an investment fund that provides seed funding to science & technology start-ups and SMEs, Ploughshare, the company that finds new and inspiring uses for government inventions and MedtechToMarket. Innovate UK provided additional funds through an Investor Partnership Grant.

The funding will help accelerate product development, support clinical trial activity and allow the company to secure UKCA accreditation by mid-2025.

As well as entering the UK market, Presymptom also plans to break into the global infectious disease diagnostics market that is estimated to be worth USD 31.5 billion by 2028 and the global sepsis diagnostics market which is projected to reach USD 1.4 Billion by 2030. 

Presymptom Health's technology provides early and reliable information about infection status and severity in patients with non-specific symptoms, helping doctors make better treatment decisions. The company’s tests can be run on NHS PCR platforms, which were widely deployed during the COVID pandemic and are now often under-utilised. By detecting true infection and sepsis earlier, it’s possible to save lives and significantly reduce the incorrect use of antibiotics.

When it comes to sepsis, Presymptom’s technology could revolutionise treatment. According to The UK Sepsis Trust, every 3 seconds, someone in the world dies of sepsis. In the UK alone, 245,000 people are affected by sepsis with at least 48,000 people losing their lives in sepsis-related illnesses every year. This is more than breast, bowel and prostate cancer combined. When diagnosed at a late stage, the likelihood of death increases by 10% for every hour left untreated. Yet, for many patients, with early diagnosis it is easily treatable. 

Dr. Iain Miller, CEO of Presymptom Health, said: “We’re confident that our first product can play a big part in tackling Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR), which has been identified by the World Health Organisation as  one of the top 10 global public health threats. By understanding the presence, or absence, of infection as early as possible, doctors can be more confident in their diagnosis and avoid unnecessarily prescribing antibiotics - something that is a growing concern in the NHS and globally.

“If we take Sepsis as an example. Sepsis diagnostics hasn’t moved on in more than a century, and currently doctors can only diagnose it when advanced symptoms and organ failure are present - which is often too late. Our technology enables doctors to diagnose both infection and sepsis up to three days before formal clinical diagnosis, radically transforming the process and preventing unnecessary deaths. 

“This funding round will help us enter the market by 2025 and, ultimately, save lives sooner. We will initially roll-out in the UK, but have plans for the US and beyond in the following years. We are hoping to raise further funds over the course of this year and next to accelerate our plans even more.”

The science behind Presymptom’s technology is based upon 10-years’ of work conducted at Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and originated from £16 million of sustained Ministry of Defence investment in a program of research designed to help service personnel survive infection from combat injuries. 

The company was created by scientists working at government laboratories, initially researching how to tackle biological threat infection, such as anthrax, plague and ebola, all of which can cause death from sepsis. Ploughshare - the company that finds new and inspiring uses for government inventions - identified the innovation as having potential societal impact and spun it out from the UK Ministry of Defence in 2019.

The technology is currently undergoing clinical trials at nine NHS hospitals in the UK, with results anticipated later in 2024. In addition, Presymptom is working on additional UK and EU trials.

Dr. Mark Gostock, VP of Health and Wellbeing at Ploughshare, said: “At Ploughshare, it's our aim to be the catalyst that propels the UK government's scientific breakthroughs from laboratories to the world, so we're delighted to be supporting Presymptom in this funding round. Hiding in government labs across the UK are inventions that can drive societal benefit and save lives and Presymptom's technology is a perfect example of this. The world is at a critical juncture when it comes to tackling AMR, so it is essential we accelerate the time-to-market of this game changing technology as quickly as possible.”

Sakura Holloway, Investment Director at UKI2S, managed by Future Planet Capital said: “This is an incredibly important use of AI. Being able to diagnose infection before someone shows signs of infection is a mind-blowing example of 'tech for good' - and at a time when AI is under such huge scrutiny. 

"As early stage investors, we have a huge role to play in backing technologies which can truly improve our lives and it’s a big responsibility to open up the route to funding - especially when it comes to emerging tech.

“Here we have an incredible example of a “lab to life” journey that people don’t see so much. UKI2S invested in Presymptom because its impact on humanity is immediately obvious and it has the potential to save countless lives. 

“As the first investors in this tech, we are proud to stand alongside Ploughshare who enabled this innovation to emerge from our UK Defence laboratories and to be the 'proof of concept' investors - helping to bring Presymptom’s AI infection technology to market and in turn, to the world.”

Simon Earwicker, Dstl Division Head, commented: “I’m thrilled that the potential of this Defence innovation is a step closer to saving multiple lives. It’s enormously satisfying to have been involved at every stage from the initial government-funded Dstl research through to the cusp of production and getting the product into hospitals.”

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Upcoming Events

Infection Prevention & Control

National Conference Centre, Birmingham
23rd - 24th April 2024

ESGE Days 2024, Symposium – ‘Elevating Endoscopy: Inspiring Progress and Innovation’

Estrel Congress Center (room 15), Berlin, Germany
25th April 2024, 16:30 – 17:30 CEST

National DERS and SMART pump conference

BCEC, Birmingham
29th April 2024

Theatres & Decontamination Conference 2024

Coventry Building Society Arena
16th May 2024

The AfPP Roadshow - Birmingham

Millennium Point, Birmingham
18th May 2024

BAUN Summer Educational Event – Essential Urology Skills

Crowne Plaza, Newcastle Stephenson Quarter
6th June 2024

Access the latest issue of Clinical Services Journal on your mobile device together with an archive of back issues.

Download the FREE Clinical Services Journal app from your device's App store

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