The FINANCIAL — New technology paves the way for individualised treatment plans for women.A UK start-up has developed an easy to use, accurate and reliable diagnostic test that could transform the way the menopause is diagnosed, monitored and managed, and is launching a pilot programme according to UKRI.
Located at the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)’s Daresbury Laboratory, at Sci-Tech Daresbury, Agile Life Sciences has developed an at-home urine sample collection test. The test can identify where a woman is during various stages of her menopausal journey.
The test is more accurate and reliable than any current menopause test available. It paves the way for individualised treatment plans for women, that can be monitored regularly to ensure that an optimal treatment pathway is identified.
A global issue
By 2025, more than one billion women will be experiencing menopause globally, but diagnosis and treatment can be inconsistent and ambiguous.
In a recent study, 80% of women said they felt their symptoms were managed poorly, with many offered antidepressants as first line treatment for low mood associated with their menopause, according to UKRI.
Introducing the vaginome
The vagina is home to hundreds of microbes, good and bad, but the key ‘good’ bacteria is lactobacilli, which plays an essential role in preventing infections and keeping the vagina healthy.
In a healthy vagina, lactobacilli dominates the vaginal microbiome when oestrogen levels are maintained. When oestrogen levels start to fluctuate and drop, as they do during menopause, the pH of the vagina starts to change.
This change in pH results in a shift in the ratio of the lactobacilli species. This is reflective of menopausal symptoms, such as vaginal atrophy, hot flushes, and the myriad of other symptoms associate with menopause.
Optimum treatment for optimum wellness
From the urine sample provided, Agile uses state-of-the-art next generation sequencing to identify the ratio and abundance of each individual bacteria.
This provides a clinician or woman with more accurate and reliable information relating to their individual vaginome.
An individualised treatment pathway for each woman can then be initiated, and the success of each treatment plan can be monitored regularly enabling the clinician to achieve optimum wellness.
Supporting start-ups for global solutions
Established in 2020, the Agile Life Sciences team has advanced expertise in designing, developing and commercialising products to fulfil unmet needs across healthcare and consumer wellness markets.
The company is currently located at STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory, at Sci-Tech Daresbury in the Liverpool City Region.
Here flexible and affordable access to cutting edge research facilities, expertise and business support have played a key role in the success of start-ups for more than 10 years. It also positions them perfectly within the dedicated North West HealthTec Cluster.
An accurate, affordable and reliable solution
Dr Jan Rogers, Joint CEO and co-founder of Agile Life Sciences, said:
There is a clear need for a simple, accurate and affordable solution that will provide women and clinicians with the essential information about their vaginal health enabling them to refocus their treatment pathway from illness to wellness.
Better ‘bespoke’ menopause management will enable women to take control and live the life they want.
I am really looking forward to the next exciting stage for our journey, as we invite women to take part in our first pilot programme.
Solving urgent challenges
STFC’s Paul Vernon, Head of STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory, said:
The advanced laboratory facilities and business support programmes here at STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory provide the vital ingredients to help businesses accelerate the development of new products and services to solve our most urgent challenges.
Agile Life Sciences is an inspirational example of this, whose technology could benefit the wellbeing of at least 50% of our population. This has the real potential to save our NHS both time and money in the process.
This is a remarkable example of how health tech companies at Daresbury, are continuing to boost the rapidly growing health tech and diagnostics industry in the North West and across the UK.