A firm developing blood tests that could save cancer patients from undergoing unnecessary biopsies has been given a boost by Go Digital Newcastle.
Biosignatures, which employs 11 people at its base in Newcastle, is carrying out research on a range of topics including improved diagnostics for prostate, kidney, bladder and thyroid cancer, and works with an international group of clients and research partners.
Now funding from Go Digital Newcastle’s business support programme has helped the firm provide its software developers with new computers, to speed up their research work.
Business development manager Dr Ben Chaffey said: “Our test system first measures the concentration of hundreds of proteins in a small sample of a patient’s blood.
“We then use innovative statistical software to analyse this complex data and determine how likely it is that this person has a particular condition.”
The Go Digital Newcastle programme provides eligible SMEs in the city with free masterclasses, workshops, one-to-one advice, funding for IT hardware and high-speed broadband connection vouchers.
“Once our research is complete we hope to offer, through collaboration with our NHS partners such as the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, a blood test which can be used to judge whether a patient would benefit from undergoing a procedure such as biopsy or not,” said Dr Chaffey.
“Such a test would bring benefits to patients by helping to ensure invasive procedures are only carried out when people stand to gain the most benefit from them.
“It would also benefit the NHS by reducing the overall number of procedures carried out, saving staff time and money which can then be spent elsewhere.”
As well as purchasing new equipment, Dr Chaffey has also taken part in two Go Digital Newcastle online marketing masterclasses, covering search engine optimisation (SEO) and effective web site design from a customer-focused point of view.
He added: “I found the masterclasses extremely useful. They coincided with a planned review of our on-line activities and updated my knowledge of effective design so much that the company decided to redesign our website.”
Go Digital Newcastle is government-funded via BDUK and run by Newcastle City Council. It provides business support, grants for IT equipment, and Connection Vouchers worth up to £3,000 for connection to superfast broadband.
Connection vouchers are also available to eligible companies in Gateshead and North Tyneside.
Biosignatures benefited from the initiative’s business support programme, which is funded by ERDF.