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Diagnostics: Building capacity and capability in the UK

Scientific meeting

Overview

This symposium, hosted by the Royal Society and the Academy of Medical Sciences, will explore advances in the diagnostics sector and the opportunities and challenges towards building capacity and capability within the UK.

Credit: Sasaton Krungsee

Background

Over 1.5 billion diagnostic tests are carried out in the NHS each year. These diagnostics, which include medical images, pathology tests and genomic tests, are crucial to the detection and diagnosis of disease and guiding subsequent treatment in a targeted way. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of the diagnostics sector and the need to increase testing capacity and capability to tackle current and future health challenges. As healthcare systems transition towards a greater emphasis on prevention and early detection, diagnostics will become an increasingly important component to ensuring good health for the nation. This will require innovative approaches to both the development of new diagnostic tools, and in how we support their adoption and delivery into the healthcare system.

This event follows the Academy’s FORUM workshop on ‘Building a sustainable UK diagnostics sector’, and will bring together scientists from industry and academia, experts from the wider scientific community and patients with lived experience to discuss how to build the UK’s diagnostics capacity and capability. Speakers will explore successful case studies of novel emerging technologies in a variety of diagnostic modalities. The meeting will finish with a panel discussing the challenges and opportunities around launching new diagnostic products into the healthcare system.

About the conference series

Supported by AstraZeneca, the meeting will form part of the Royal Society’s Transforming our future conferences in the life sciences, and the Academy of Medical Sciences’ FORUM programme. These meetings are unique, high-level events that address the scientific and technical challenges of the next decade. Each conference features cutting edge science from industry and academia and brings together leading experts from the scientific community, including regulatory, charity and funding bodies. 

Event organisers

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Schedule of talks

12 October

13:05-13:45

Opening talks

3 talks Show detail Hide detail

Chairs

Professor Dame Anne Mills CBE FMedSci FRS, Deputy Director & Provost, The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

13:05-13:15 An introduction to the diagnostics sector

Professor Sharon Peacock CBE FMedSci, Professor of Public Health and Microbiology, University of Cambridge; Director, COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK)

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13:15-13:35 The success of QuantuMDx

Elaine Warburton, Founder & Non-Executive Director, QuantuMDx Group

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13:35-13:45 Empowering the patient in the UK diagnostics vision

Ms Jo Pisani, Non executive director and trustee, FindACure, LAM Action, MedCity

Abstract

This presentation will take the patient perspective on the opportunity to improve diagnosis, management and research of disease through improved technology and collaboration. 

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14:00-15:30

Technical talks

5 talks Show detail Hide detail

Chairs

Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald FMedSci, University of Cambridge

14:00-14:15 Volatile organic compound analysis as a non-invasive breath test to detect cancer

Professor George Hanna, Imperial College London

Abstract

Early gastrointestinal cancer typically has non-specific symptoms that could be wrongly attributed to common benign conditions. It is not feasible to refer all patients with gastrointestinal symptoms to have endoscopy as it is invasive, expensive and consumes NHS resources. Breath testing has ideal characteristics for a triage test as it is non-invasive and acceptable to patients. This talk will discuss the use of volatile organic compound (VOC) analysis to detect oesophagogastric and colorectal cancers, the sources for VOC production and the challenges to translate VOC analysis into a diagnostic platform technology in clinical practice.

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14:15-14:30 Integrated Radiogenomics for Unravelling Tumour Heterogeneity and Treatment Monitoring

Professor Evis Sala, Professor of Oncological Imaging, University of Cambridge

Abstract

Cancer is caused by genetic alterations and frequently arises as a clonal growth from a founder cell. The subclonal heterogeneity provides the basis for inter-metastatic heterogeneity which is of utmost clinical importance. New tumor sampling techniques and circulating tumor DNA methods may allow for more comprehensive evaluation of clonal composition. As both primary tumors and metastatic lesions are spatially and temporally heterogeneous they would require multiple biopsies, which still doesn’t allow for a complete characterization of the tumor genomic landscape. Therefore, imaging has great potential for a comprehensive evaluation of the entire tumor burden as it is noninvasive and often repeated during treatment in routine practice. While initial retrospective radiogenomics studies have shown high prognostic power they do not provide any spatial information as quantitative imaging features are averaged over the entire tumor. This approach ignores spatial heterogeneity readily apparent on imaging highlighting the need for well-designed prospective radiogenomics studies focused on meaningful integration of phenotype and genotype.

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14:30-14:45 The Promise of Digital Pathology and Artificial Intelligence in Histopathology

Professor Clare Verrill, Associate Professor, University of Oxford & Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Abstract

Digitally enabled care is core to delivering current and future healthcare services. Histopathology (Cellular Pathology) has been highlighted as in need of innovation by the routine use of digital pathology platforms for reporting rather than microscopes. Once this digital pathology infrastructure is in place, this enables AI assistance for pathologists in diagnostic reporting together with the promise of deriving novel insights into disease biology which are not possible with a human observer. Despite the promise and rapidly developing traction, barriers still exist to adoption of these technologies. In this talk I will outline real life experiences of deploying these technologies in practice with specific reference to my sub speciality of urological pathology and outline future directions.

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14:45-15:00 Point of care diagnostics

Dr Helen Lee, Diagnostics for the Real World

Abstract

 

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15:00-15:30 Panel Q&A

Professor George Hanna, Imperial College London
Professor Evis Sala, Professor of Oncological Imaging, University of Cambridge
Professor Clare Verrill, Associate Professor, University of Oxford & Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Dr Helen Lee, Diagnostics for the Real World

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15:45-16:45

Panel discussion

1 talk Show detail Hide detail

Chairs

Dr Ian Campbell, Chief Business Officer, LifeArc

15:45-16:45

Dr Rebecca Todd, Investment Director, Longwall Ventures
Dr Jane Kinghorn, University College London
Dr Michael Kipping, Innovate UK

Abstract

This panel discussion will focus on innovation and commercialisation, adoption by the NHS and general population, and the challenges of funding and policy. Consideration of regulations from the start of the pipeline will also be covered.

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This symposium, hosted by the Royal Society and the Academy of Medical Sciences, will explore advances in the diagnostics sector and the opportunities and challenges towards building capacity and capability within the UK.

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