Although mental health is widely recognised as a major disease burden, it does not receive the same level of attention or funding as diseases such as cancer or cardiovascular health. David Newton, chief operating officer at Akrivia Health, says there has been a historic lack of investment and therefore, a lack of discovery, in the fields of psychiatry and dementia. He hopes Akrivia Health, through its focus on precision medicine, can address this situation and help the medical industry improve services, interventions and potentially discover new treatments.
Precision medicine, also known as personalised medicine, is very much based on providing care that is tailored to patients, taking account of an individual’s genetic, biological, psychological and social factors to target the intervention.
“There have been very few breakthroughs in terms of treatment the last few decades,” says Newton. “As a result, a care plan today would look almost identical to a care plan from many years ago. We are bringing together the biggest multimodal dataset we can to support scientific discovery and bring about change in this disease area and help organisations deliver better patient care.”
Akrivia Health is currently working with 17 NHS organisations, using the platform to extract and anonymise patients’ psychiatric entries from doctors’ and nurses’ reports and turn it into a comprehensive dataset for analysis. Traditionally, these reports are free-text, making it difficult to draw useful conclusions. The results of this process are provided to the NHS free of charge. Pharmaceutical companies pay for the results of the analysis. They might use that dataset to decide which NHS trusts would be good trial sites for a new drug, for example.
Newton hopes that analysis of the real-world data will improve the medical profession’s understanding of mental health and how interventions are affecting patient outcomes. Deeper, more comprehensive characterisation of mental health disease will help identify differences in response and outcome, and potentially then how to target the right treatment to the right patient at the right time.
Investment and global growth after Innovate UK EDGE involvement
Craig Gordon, Innovation and Growth Specialist at Innovate UK EDGE, has been working with Akrivia Health since 2019. As well as providing general business support, Gordon helped Newton identify the 2020 China Precision Medicine Global Business Innovation Programme for participation. Akrivia Health was successful in its application, although the GBIP only happened recently and virtually, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
With EDGE support, Akrivia Health launched its new research platform for pharmaceutical companies, a subscription platform that will enable them to run complex queries on anonymised data to carry out feasibility studies, observational research and post market surveillance.
Since early 2020, the company has grown from 18 to 46 people, turnover has increased 300% and Akrivia Health closed a Series A round worth up to $12 million in June 2021. The first Akrivia Health supported clinical trials are underway and the company is expanding internationally. Gordon put Newton in touch with government and industry contacts to help facilitate the expansion plans. “Innovate UK EDGE has been very supportive all the way through, helping review grant material and our Series A funding round, for example,” says Newton. “I really value the engagement and support we’ve received.”
Innovate UK EDGE has been very supportive all the way through, helping review grant material and our Series A funding round, for example... I really value the engagement and support we’ve received.”