Procurement support to launch ground-breaking cervical cancer diagnostic system into NHS
Cervical cancer is the 12th most common cancer in women in the UK; in 2011 around 3,100 new cases were diagnosed. More than three-quarters of all new cases are diagnosed in women aged 25-64, and it is the most common cancer in females under 35.
The disease can be treated if diagnosed early, particularly at the pre-cancerous or cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia (CIN) stage. The current diagnostic stages of screening, colposcopy and biopsy are recognised as having scope for error in the laboratory; patients can experience pain during the procedures and there is potential for short and longer term consequences caused by the usual ‘see and treat’ approach.
Zilico’s ground-breaking ZedScan system offers quicker and more accurate detection of CIN, delivering results in real-time and enabling clinicians to improve patient management within the cervical cancer pathway.
In 2014, with help from Greater Manchester AHSN, Zilico won its first deal with the NHS to distribute its ZedScan system to Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation. Following this, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) developed a Medtech Innovation Briefing (MIB) for the system to encourage the uptake of ZedScan as an innovative and promising technology that has the potential to improve patient health and increase NHS productivity.
How it happened
GM AHSN was asked to intervene at a crucial stage in the purchase of the ZedScan system. Advisors offered expert support and advice on the procurement process, and on how to proceed with the sale. In addition Zilico, a Sheffield-based company, was helped to open a satellite office in Manchester.
“We have a team of expert advisors who work with companies on a wide range of issues from market assessments and clinical trials, to how to access funding and NHS procurement”
Keith Chantler, Executive Director of Industry and Wealth, GM AHSN
Focused on supporting SMEs to do business with the NHS, the GM AHSN has established the Innovation Nexus as a bespoke support system for med-tech in the Greater Manchester region.
Supported by 34 member organisations and a range of influential partners, Innovation Nexus acts as a one-stop access hub from which companies can access information, funding opportunities and expertise as well as procurement help.
Its current primary priority clinical areas are cardiovascular health, patient safety and digital health/informatics.
"The benefit to patients is that they will get an immediate and objective result. It will reduce the need for biopsies, sparing patients a painful process often associated with bleeding afterwards. With the improved detection of cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia (CIN) we have the potential to reduce over-treatment, particularly for those women who currently go through ‘see and treat’"
John Tidy, Professor of Gynaecological Oncology, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Clinical Founder of Zilico Ltd
ZedScan uses Electrical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS) to differentiate between normal, pre-cancerous and cancerous tissue on the cervix by assessing its electrical properties, which are known to change during the development of neoplasia. Specifically, tissue that is more dysplastic (i.e. developing abnormally) exhibits a reduced resistance to the flow of current as a result of physical changes in its structure.
ZedScan measures the electrical impedance at 14 different frequencies, which creates a characteristic spectrum according to the structure of the tissue. Each reading is given a nominal value that is then compared to a reference to provide a semi-quantitative, reproducible assessment of the cervix.