The North East Innovation Lab is celebrating a two-year milestone birthday and has expanded its work in accelerating the development of diagnostics for a range of virus and health threats.
Based at The Biosphere in Newcastle Helix, the facility is now part of Newcastle Hospitals and plays a key role in bringing new approaches and diagnostics to mainstream use.
The team supports developers with testing and improving their technologies, which includes conducting independent performance evaluations and validations for new and emerging diagnostics; methodology and protocol development and bespoke sample collection.
The lab’s well-stocked biobank holds over 22,000 carefully categorised clinical samples, including blood, serum and saliva, offering clients access to the materials needed to test products and devices.
Since opening, the lab has engaged with over 100 test developers from industry, academia and the NHS, and worked on over 45 projects with 21 companies across the globe from the UK to the USA and China to Australia.
Dr John Tyson, head of the innovation lab, said:
“We have been able to build on the fast-moving progress and innovation in diagnostics that came through the pandemic and have expanded our portfolio to include supporting diagnostics across a range of diseases, ranging from sepsis and cancer.
“Our core aim is to accelerate the development of new tests so that they are high quality, convenient and can be widely accessed by those who need them.
“We have strong expertise in the evaluation of diagnostics and facilitating the accelerated development of innovative products helping them get into wider use. Wider access to better tests has the potential to improve patient and population health, whilst supporting the reduction of health inequalities.”
Diagnostics have a huge role to play in improving health for patients offering the opportunity to both diagnose disease and guide treatment.
The lab is working on projects to develop diagnostics which can personalise treatment for conditions such as breast cancer and urinary tract infections for the elderly.
The team are also involved in validating a system which uses artificial intelligence to help clinicians and scientists to identify pathogens such as MRSA, group A Streptococcus (group A strep) which causes scarlet fever.
The lab’s team of NHS scientists specialise in molecular biology, methodology and clinical research, with a client base including UK and international organisations, from university spin-outs to large multi-national corporations.