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Press Release

Hundreds of sickle cell patients to benefit from £1.5M technology investment

UK's National Health Service to use Spectra Optia to help manage sickle cell disease

​​​​​​​​​​LONDON, United Kingdom  Children, young people, and adults across England suffering from sickle cell disease will soon benefit from better care closer to where they live, following the announcement of a £1.5M investment in 25 red blood cell exchange devices.​

Funding for the Spectra Optia® Apheresis System​ devices has been distributed to 22 NHS trusts*, with the devices set to be installed in hospitals for the treatment of patients by the end of March.

There are approximately 15,000 people in the England with sickle cell disease, and around 10% of these are eligible for the treatment on the NHS. Investment in the rollout of this technology could provide an additional 10,000 apheresis procedures annually.

Sickle cell​ patients often find themselves in and out of hospitals, enduring severe pain and requiring regular "top-up" blood transfusions.

NHS Trusts New Spectra Optias.pngAutomating red blood cell exchanges can help reduce the necessity for top-up transfusions, effectively manage pain, and lower the risk of experiencing a crisis. Eligible patients can receive treatment every six to eight weeks.

Sickle cell disease disproportionately impacts people from West African and Afro-Caribbean communities, and patients also often live in the most socio-economically deprived areas and are at higher risk of both re-admissions and in-hospital mortality.

The funding will provide at least one machine to each of the trusts that expressed an interest in expanding their automated red blood cell exchange services. This will mean patients in urban, rural, and coastal areas will have improved access to services, which in turn will help tackle the inequalities in healthcare access and health outcomes amongst people with sickle cell disease.

This investment comes from NHS England Specialised Commissioning.

The Spectra Optia device is one of the technologies supported through NHS England's MedTech Funding Mandate. The Health Innovation Network (formerly known as the AHSN Network) is the lead delivery partner for the Mandate, which is designed to accelerate the adoption of selected cost-saving medical technologies, diagnostics, and digital products recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Improving access to red blood cell exchange therapy has the potential to save NHS England up to £12.9Mannually while reducing health inequalities. 

Harriet Smith, National Programme Lead for Spectra Optia at Health Innovation Yorkshire & Humber, said: "This funding will play a pivotal role in ensuring sickle cell patients receive more regular care closer to where they live, as well as help reduce health inequalities. I'm very proud of the role the MedTech Funding Mandate has played in the rollout of this technology to ensure we meet the automated red blood cell exchange needs of sickle cell patients."

John Stewart, National Director for Specialised Commissioning, NHS England, added: "NHS England is committed to improving the support provided to people with sickle cell disease. This investment to increase the number of devices for automated red blood cell exchange across the country will support the expansion of services and improve access for patients who need regular transfusions."

Verena Stocker, Director of Research, Innovation, Life Sciences and Strategy, NHS England: "This innovation is a great example of how working collaboratively across organisations helps accelerate the uptake of life-changing innovations. We are committed to bringing the best health technologies to patients more quickly, supporting the spread and adoption of medical devices, diagnostics, and digital products that are clinically effective."

Antoinette Gawin, President and Chief Executive Officer, Terumo Blood and Cell Technologies: "This investment helps more patients get treatment with a proven therapy to manage sickle cell disease. This option has existed for years but has been inaccessible to some patients — especially in underserved communities — due to barriers, including limited awareness. Now, thanks to the collaborative efforts of the NHS, the Health Innovation Network, and the voice of patients, this sickle cell therapy with Spectra Optia will be an option for more people who may benefit."

Find out more about the MedTech Funding Mandate.​

1Figure from the NICE guidelines: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/mtg28/chapter/1-Recommendations

*Table showing which Trusts will receive the funding and which hospitals will house the Spectra Optia devices

University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust1
Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust1
Birmingham Women's and Children's NHS Foundation Trust1
Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust1
Barts Health NHS Trust 1
University College London Hospitals (UCLH)1
Kings College Hospital NHS FT 2
Croydon Health Services NHS Trust1
Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust 1
Guys & St. Thomas NHS Foundation Trust1
Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust1
Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust  2
St George's Healthcare NHS FT1
Mid and South Essex University Hospitals Trust1
Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust1
East Suffolk and North Essex NHS FT1
Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust1
University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust1
Manchester University NHS FT1
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust1
The Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS FT2
University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust1

Spectra Optia® Apheresis System
The Spectra Optia system is a user-friendly, versatile, industry-leading therapeutic apheresis, cell processing and cell collection platform that allows operators to spend more time focusing on patient care. Therapeutic apheresis is used widely for a variety of applications. For example, practitioners use red blood cell exchange (RBCX) for sickle cell disease treatment; cell collections for stem cell transplantations and to collect starting material for cell therapies; and therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE) to treat many diseases in both the chronic and acute setting in the neurology, nephrology and hematology spaces.​

*Product and protocol availability varies by country.

About Terumo Blood and Cell Technologies
Terumo Blood and Cell Technologies is a medical technology company. Our products, software and services enable customers to collect and prepare blood and cells to help treat challenging diseases and conditions.

Our employees worldwide believe in the potential of blood and cells to do even more for patients than they do today. This belief inspires our innovation and strengthens our collaboration with customers.

Terumo Blood and Cell Technologies' customers include blood centers, hospitals, therapeutic apheresis clinics, cell collection and processing organizations, researchers and private medical practices. Our customers are based in over 160 countries across the globe. We have 750+ granted patents, with more than 150 additionally pending.

We have global headquarters in Lakewood, Colorado, U.S.A., along with five regional headquarters, seven manufacturing sites and six innovation and development centers across the globe. Terumo Blood and Cell Technologies is a subsidiary of Terumo Corporation (TSE: 4543), a global leader in medical technology.​

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