Yorkshire technology could save millions for
NHS through new test for digestive disease

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EXPERTS in Yorkshire have developed a simple test to diagnose a common ailment which it is estimated could save the NHS tens of millions of pounds a year.

Medical technology firm RD Biomed, based in Hull, has devised a simple saliva test for detecting reflux disease.

It says Peptest can quickly identify people who reflux gastric juice and screening out patients who are currently have extensive and unnecessary testing at significant cost to the health service.

As many as two in five people suffer from the problem but diagnosing the illness in hospital can be expensive and slow.

Without early diagnosis and treatment, reflux can lead to more serious conditions including cancer of the oesophagus.

Oesophageal cancer is the ninth most common cancer in the UK with around 8,500 new cases each year.

Symptoms of reflux include heartburn, regurgitation, hoarseness, voice disorders, chronic coughing and throat clearing.

Patients suspected of having the illness will typically be referred for a battery of tests if 
they do not respond to medication.

But the firm says its test 
could save the NHS £27m a year by measuring the presence of the digestive enzyme pepsin in saliva instead of leaving patients to undergo hospital procedures.

Prof Peter Dettmar, managing director of RD Biomed, said: “By using Peptest as a screening tool, doctors can filter out ‘routine’ reflux patients with a definitive diagnosis of reflux and prevent unnecessary referral to invasive and expensive diagnostic tests.”

He added: “Research has shown that between 80 per cent and 90 per cent of all patients presenting with suspected reflux symptoms are referred to secondary care, meaning that many outpatients’ clinics are attended by people who don’t really need to be there.”

Prof Karna Dev Bardhan, consultant physician and gastroenterologist at Rotherham Hospital, has used the new test for research into reflux conditions.

He described the new technology as a “major, major breakthrough” in the diagnosis of reflux disease.

“Many patients present with throat symptoms and Peptest results help me identify those in whom extraoesophageal reflux contributes and treatment can then be redirected,” he said.

The firm is already working with the Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network to speed up the adoption of the test across all parts of the NHS.