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Research to enable patients to monitor their immune systems in the home begins

Posted on 10 June 2021

Researchers in the Departments of Physics and Electronic Engineering have received almost £1m to develop a device to enable patients to self-assess their immune systems at home.

Professor Thomas Krauss and Dr Steven Johnson, working in partnership with clinicians at York Hospital and Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust and industry partners Osram and Lucid, will lead research to develop a portable instrument which patients will use in the home to examine their own immune systems from a single drop of blood.

Funded

The project is one of 20 funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

At present, immunosuppressed patients; such as those receiving treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, require frequent blood tests in a hospital to establish the status of their condition. These visits can be stressful for patients and costly for the NHS.

Biosensor

The team aims to develop a portable instrument based on photonic biosensor technology to detect infection-related protein biomarkers. Professor Krauss says they will work with patients living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a condition which requires regular monthly monitoring of patient biomarkers.

The device also supports the NHS’s long-term strategy of moving to patient-reported methods with less reliance on hospitals and clinics.

Professor Krauss says the global pandemic has highlighted the need for more technology of this type.

Benefit

He said: “A key benefit of our technology is that it allows blood testing to take place remotely. This could not be more important in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, where the management of many high-risk patients such as those with RA has moved towards remote monitoring.

“Primary care blood collection centres have been overwhelmed during the pandemic. The technologies developed here would help address these issues and significantly improve the service to patients.”