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Government Minister visits regional businesses

George Freeman also took part in a conference and visited PolyPhotonix, which has developed a treatment for diabetic retinopathy.

The North East’s place at the head of the booming life sciences sector has been recognised with a Ministerial visit.

Life Sciences Minister George Freeman visited PolyPhotonix, on County Durham’s NETPark, and QuantuMDx on Tyneside, as part of a fact-finding mission to connect with pioneering companies making a difference to the multi-billion pound sector.

Leading a delegation to the region, the Minister also took part in the Adopting MedTech for Patient Benefit conference in Newcastle.

Previously based at the International Centre for Life in Newcastle, QuantuMDx recently moved to the city’s Quayside, launching the first commercial laboratory to open in the city centre for a number of years.

The building features nine ISO-accedited labs, as well as business and commercial services facilities, complemented by a nearby engineering base and additional facilities with the Newcastle University’s Chemical Nanoscience Laboratories.

The set-up allows for further development and scale-up of the company’s products, including handheld diagnostic tool, Q-POC and DNA extraction technology, Q-PREP.

QuantuMDx CEO Elaine Warburton said: “I’m delighted to welcome the minister to our new HQ at The Lugano Building to observe first-hand how the UK has played a key role in supporting a group of entrepreneurs working out of a makeshift garage lab by helping them develop and commercialise home-grown technology that can change the face of medicine.

“Now we have an exciting opportunity to continue to innovate in our stunning R&D campus. It just shows what can be done with passion, a fantastic team and a bit of funding.”

Mr Freeman said: “Small life sciences companies like QuantuMDx are the lifeblood of a leading cluster of 21st century life science and health technology here in the North East.

“The pioneering handheld DNA technology that I’ve seen today will help clinicians around the world to address global challenges by providing fast diagnosis of diseases such as malaria for just a few dollars.”

PolyPhotonix has developed a sleep mask that could improve the sight of diabetics across the globe.

Noctura 400, which was recently listed by the Institute of Engineering and Technology as one of 100 products with the potential to change the world, uses organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology to tackle diabetic retinopathy, the most prevalent cause of blindness in adults.

Two clinical trials have been completed for the product, with a third is under way involving 300 participants.

Costing less than £3 per day, the treatment is currently on sale directly from PolyPhotonix, through independent opticians, and from The Outside Clinic, part of Lloyds Pharmacy.

PolyPhotonix CEO Richard Kirk said: “We are delighted to host a visit by George Freeman at our NetPark headquarters.

“The North East has a deserved reputation for innovation in life sciences, and we’re proud that PolyPhotonix is being recognised for its key role in that sector.

“Our Noctura 400 Sleep Mask offers diabetic eye disease patients a wearable, non-invasive and harmless experience in comparison to current treatments, at a fraction of the cost.

“We want to put prevention of disease in the hands of the patient and prove that North East tech has a global reach.”

Mr Freeman said: “PolyPhotonix is one of the UK’s most exciting life science companies and helps put the North East at the forefront of scientific innovation.

“In just seven years, the company has grown from a bright idea to a revolutionary treatment now saving the sight of thousands of adults in the UK, and with the potential to save the NHS up to £1bn per year.”

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Find out more about the Noctura 400 innovation →