Macmillan Cancer Support has invested in Neutrocheck, a portable device and app being developed by 52 North Health, to help people with cancer test for neutropenic sepsis from their own homes.

Neutrocheck’s device is centred around an at-home finger prick test that could detect the life-threatening reaction to an infection. This could prove vital for patients undergoing chemotherapy who may be immune suppressed, making them more likely to develop neutropenic sepsis.

Currently, if they sent to A&E, they are given appropriate antibiotics as a precaution and undergo a full blood test.

With the test, patients can check their risk at home, allowing them to take informed and immediate steps to seek care and be prioritised at hospitals. It also helps to save resources in the NHS and frees up clinician time for those patients who do test positive for neutropenic sepsis.

Professor Richard Simcock, chief medical officer at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Infection during chemotherapy is one of the most feared complications of the treatment. It needs to be managed quickly.

“Rapid access to blood results should mean safer care for people with compromised immunity and less distress for people with normal results.

“If proven, the Neutrocheck technology would help give confidence to people living with cancer and should hopefully reduce workload for busy emergency departments.”

Neutrocheck is being developed by 52 North Health, and is currently undergoing rigorous clinical testing. Its development is also being shaped with insight from Macmillan’s Innovation Community – a group of people living with cancer and healthcare professionals.

The £100,000 investment in Neutrocheck is the first for the Macmillan Cancer Support’s new Innovation Impact Investment Portfolio. Over the next two years, the new portfolio will be investing £3.5 million in start-up businesses that are developing innovative cancer care products and technology.

Umaima Ahmad, CEO of 52 North Health, said: “We are delighted to be Macmillan’s first-ever venture investment in its 112-year history.

“Neutrocheck is a game-changer and has the potential to significantly improve both safety and quality of life for people living with cancer, and we are delighted to receive this recognition from one of the UK’s largest charities, in order to drive better cancer care together.”

Following a clinical validation study to be conducted in NHS hospitals, the device is expected to be available to people with cancer through their healthcare providers in 2024.

Last summer Macmillan Cancer Support was able to offer newly diagnosed cancer patients with free access to digital mental health therapy, following a partnership with Big Health.