Milltrust Ventures portfolio company 52 North Health has made history by becoming the first-ever investment for Macmillan’s new £3.5m Innovation Impact investment portfolio.
The news follows the announcement last month that former University of Cambridge Vice-Chancellor and current chair of Cancer Research UK, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, has been appointed non-executive director at the Hauser Forum-based company.
The reason for the new investment – the previous boost was in May 2022 – is that 52 North Health, which was incorporated in 2018, has developed a pioneering at-home neutropenic sepsis test, Neutrocheck. It checks a cancer patient’s risk of the life-threatening condition neutropenic sepsis through an at-home blood fingerpick test. If the device is found to be effective, those at risk will know when to seek urgent medical attention, and those not at risk may be able to avoid unnecessary visits to A&E – two in five of these visits are false alarms for sepsis.
Neutropenic sepsis is a serious reaction to an infection that affects the whole body, with possible signs including flu-like symptoms, such as a fever or low temperature, which are easy to dismiss. However, even a mild illness can become fatal, with one study suggesting that, for every hour a person has neutropenic sepsis before starting treatment, chances of survival can reduce by more than 7 per cent. It can occur in people with cancer undergoing chemotherapy who may have suppressed immune systems and, due to the risks, the vast majority of those who feel unwell are currently sent directly to A&E.
Umaima Ahmad, CEO of 52 North Health, said: “We are delighted to be Macmillan’s first ever venture investment in its 112-year history.
“Macmillan’s organisational values strongly resonate with us at 52 North, and we’ve been working together for over a year, ensuring that people living with cancer are directly involved in product development for Neutrocheck.
“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.”