A test originally designed to predict cancer prognosis could save the NHS millions of pounds in treating patients with chronic wounds, scientists have said.
The test, developed by two Welsh life scientists, is set to be commercialised by Fusion IP and promises to improve wound care by analysing the genetic signature of a wound.
Chronic wounds, such as those caused by leg ulcers and pressure sores associated with diabetes, currently cost the NHS £180m a year in Wales alone.
Keith Harding, Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine and Wound Healing at Cardiff University, said: “At a time when we can cure many cancers and transplant organs at will, we still can’t get a patient in front of the right person at the right time when they have a wound. A majority of patients will be seen in routine clinical practice for many months or even years before the clinician will say someone else needs to see the patient.”
It can currently take up to 12 weeks to determine whether a leg ulcer wound is responding to treatment, but Professor Harding said in one case he came across, a patient had had his dressings changed weekly for 57 years with no improvement in his wound.
Approximately 60% of chronic wound cases are unresponsive to the current traditional treatment. The new test, however, has been shown to be 98% accurate in initial research.
The test is the result of a four-year collaboration between Professor Harding and Wen Jiang, also a professor at Cardiff University, and examines the genetic signature of the wound.
Professor Jiang, Professor in Surgery and Tumour Biology at Cardiff University, said: “The very close correlation between the genetic signature and the future outcome of the wound healing process gives us confidence this test will deliver real benefits to patients.”
The collaboration has been granted £150,000 from the Welsh Government’s Academic Expertise for Business (A4B) programme to validate the new wound test.
Both professors hope to set up a company to commercialise the product, with support from Fusion IP, Cardiff University’s commercial partner.
“The idea is to give the average clinician the opportunity, at almost the first appointment, to tell whether a patient is going to be easy-to-heal or hard-to-heal,” commented Professor Harding.