Background and Purpose

The NIHR Newcastle MIC works closely with innovators to evaluate new diagnostic tests. The high-quality evidence generated drives smooth and rapid adoption into the NHS. It is a key component of Diagnostics North East (DxNE), a bespoke and unique offering that helps developers take high-quality innovations into the NHS. DxNE brings together diagnostics excellence across Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (NuTH), Newcastle University and the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria (AHSN NENC). Specifically, DxNE incorporates expertise across the diagnostics landscape, encompassing discovery, development, evaluation, adoption and horizon scanning. Key impacts arising from the MIC, delivered through the links to NHIP, include:

  • Strengthening excellence in research across three clinical themes of ageing, infection, and personalised medicine. The themes build on the region’s world-leading expertise in these areas, resulting in 37 peer-reviewed publications during the reporting period.
  • Working closely with the AHSN NENC to deliver the NHS Long Term Plan, including significantly improved diagnostics for the detection of Familial Hypercholesterolaemia.
  • Educating researchers and innovators. NHIP helped MIC to widen its reach through promotion of a nine-part webinar series. This equipped over 150 test developers from 43 companies, 29 universities and 18 countries with the knowledge to improve their diagnostics.
  • Addressing regional inequalities through the Multiverse Lab. The NHIP and MIC brought together nine organisations to collaborate on this innovative online experience. Multiverse Lab has collected the views of over 300 people living across the North East to inform future research plans. This will ensure we address the health issues that matter the most to our communities.

Outcomes (achieved or projected)

During the reporting period, the NHIP has facilitated the MIC’s core business, including its significant contribution to the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This included accelerating delivery of new diagnostics into practice and informing government planning. Activities include:

  • Founding the £1.3M CONDOR (The COVID-19 National Diagnostic Research and Evaluation Platform). This nationally prioritised platform has evaluated tests from over 20 companies for delivery into the NHS and care homes. NHIP enabled the MIC to analyse the impact of adopting the LumiraDx device within NuTH, informing data collection for DHSC’s national audit.
  • Playing an integral role in establishing the unique Innovation Laboratory within the newly-formed Integrated COVID Hub North East, hosted by NuTH. The Hub catalyses new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for COVID-19 in partnership with industry. Through the NHIP, the MIC has allowed over 30 companies and academic innovators to develop new tests.
  • Enabling DxNE partners to strengthen links with the AHSN NENC. The MIC played an integral part in designing the AHSN NENC’s innovation pathway which provides a clear route to innovators to commercialise their new technologies. Over the last year, these links have enabled the MIC to provide independent bespoke expertise to over 60 innovators.
  • Delivering a public event to explain the complexities around measuring the accuracy of COVID-19 tests. This involved collaboration with Newcastle University Faculty of Medical Sciences Engagement team and the MIC insight panel for patients, public and carers.

Who will benefit and how

  • Patients, with better access to diagnostics proven to be safe and effective. Rapid diagnosis is key to the patient receiving the right care and can substantially improve their outcomes.
  • Innovators benefit from NIHR Newcastle MIC expertise with aspects such as grant applications and literature searches as well as testing the accuracy of the innovation itself
  • The NHS benefits from new, rigorously tested diagnostics which are often more cost effective.

How the NHIP contributed to the outcomes

The NHIP is key to maximising the efficiency of DxNE, establishing strategic partnerships and consolidating relationships between industry, academia and the NHS.

Reflections and learnings

NHIP believes there are key learnings on how effectively the NIHR Newcastle MIC have supported the translation of strong science and adoption of research and innovation during the COVID-19 pandemic. These learnings will be shared and disseminated through NHIP, locally and globally.

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