Scotland: continuing to break the medical mould

Link to full article: Scottish Development International

Scots ideas are widely-acknowledged as providing the building blocks of much of modern medicine. As our latest crop of healthcare technologists head for Medica 2015, what’s behind that history of innovation and how is it shaping up today? If Scottish-born Alexander Fleming hadn't been such an untidy scientist, we would never have the life-saving drugs we have today. His discovery of a mould growing in one of his culture dishes that killed the surrounding bacteria prompted one of the greatest medical breakthroughs of the 20th century.

Fleming was not the only Scots pioneer. In fact, the start of innovation in healthcare is inextricably linked to the 18th century Scottish Age of Enlightenment. Scientific and medical knowledge was one its central pillars. Many of the key thinkers were trained as physicians or had studied science and medicine at university. Unlike England or European countries like France or Austria, their thinking was not restricted by powerful aristocratic patrons.

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A rich ecosystem

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Cytosystems is another very contemporary pioneer, with an idea to greatly improve existing bladder cancer tests, without disrupting work practices. In the words of Nigel Mclean, their product manager. “Following on from the extremely encouraging results of our initial 1,000 patient clinical trial for a urine-based diagnostic test for bladder cancer, Cytosystems is rapidly moving towards gaining MHRA and FDA approval.  Securing a multi-million pound source of funding has given us the resources required to complete a phase 2 multi-centred clinical trial and achieve MHRA and FDA approval."  

Surrounded by support

"Cytosystems is benefiting from being based in Scotland as a result of being close to major markets via our proximity to international airports.  We draw upon the talent within local universities, teaching hospitals, and SME’s together with the support from various innovation grants which help to support early-stage projects through to assistance with reaching out to the market once products are at the commercialisation stage. " - Nigel McLean, Cytosystems.