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Perspectum Diagnostics – a spinout from the Radcliffe Department of Medicine – has reinvested money in the University of Oxford, to fund a three year multicentre European health economic study into methods of diagnosing fatty liver disease. This first of three payments totaling €759,999, is part of a €3.4m project, won by Perspectum in the H2020 grant competition.

© (Image credit: Perspectum)

Perspectum Diagnostics has developed an MRI scanning technique to detect and monitor non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) – a rising concern due to its links with obesity and diabetes. LiverMultiScan offers a safe and non-invasive method to aid diagnosis of liver disorders. Patients are already benefitting from the technology, which was introduced in Europe and the U.S. as a research device in 2014. It has now been made available in leading medical institutions in 50 hospitals, globally.

Researchers in the Health Economics Research Centre, Nuffield Department of Population Health will conduct the study, comparing the cost of patient care using liver biopsy with that of using LiverMultiScan. 2,000 patients with suspected of a diagnosis of NAFLD will be recruited to centres in Ulm (Germany), Leiden (the Netherlands) and Coimbra (Portugal). Each patient will be randomised to either follow the current diagnostic pathway with biopsy, or to have early access to state-of-the-art MRI with LiverMultiScan, to determine the presence and extent of disease. At the end of the trial, the cost-effectiveness and patient-reported outcome measures of the two diagnostic pathways will be compared.

"A cost-effective tool for non-invasive liver tissue characterisation would be a major step forward in the treatment of patients with liver diseases such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease," explains Dr. Minneke Coenraad from Leiden University Medical Centre, one of the investigators leading the study.

Oxford University researchers have already published clinical studies which show how multiparametric MRI scans help in the diagnostic pathway for liver diseases (Banerjee et al, 2014), stratifies NAFLD and NASH patients (Pavlides et al., 2016) and, most importantly, can identify which patients are at risk of liver failure (Pavlides, et al, 2016).

Perspectum Diagnostics was founded less than 5 years ago, based in part on IP that was generated within the Radcliffe Department of Medicine, and which was licensed to Perspectum through the University’s Technology Transfer department – Oxford University Innovation.  The company has continued to enjoy mutually beneficial scientific relationships with the Oxford Centre for Clinical Magnetic Resonance Research (OCMR), benefitting in particular from the scientific leadership of Professors Neubauer and Robson. The company has grown rapidly and now employs 50 people in the UK and the US, many of them alumni of the University. 

This is great example of a spinout successfully completing the circle and putting funds and resources back into further, and much needed, academic endeavors in Oxford.

 Learn more about how this technique is already improving lives in a recent feature on BBC South.