A MONITORING system for patients with cystic fibrosis that could save the NHS £57million a year is undergoing its first trials.

Aseptika has developed a home-based test for bacterial respiratory infections, measuring the levels of key biomarkers to predict the onset of chest infections, known as 'exacerbations' and has started trials of the test to enable patients, and their doctors, to monitor their health using the Activ8rlives website, part of the Huntingdon-based company's portfolio.

The tests can be used to give patients and their doctors seven to 10 days' advanced warning of an exacerbation which could result in a reduction in hospital admissions and length of stay, according to Aseptika director Kevin Auton.

Due to the nature of the illness, it is not possible to determine which antibiotics will work when an outbreak occurs but Dr Auton said the test will show early changes in patients' conditions. This will demonstrate if a treatment is working earlier than the five to seven days doctors have to wait currently.

The firm's initial trial at Papworth Hospital's cystic fibrosis centre of excellence showed that the hospital could save more than £1.7m a year if it used Aseptika's test.

Dr Auton said that the test could half costs per patients in severity bands 2A and above, meaning the NHS would save £57m a year treating the UK's 9,000 people suffering with cystic fibrosis.

"The test will be the same principle as a pregnancy test, so it is self-monitoring and patients spit on the test to see how virulent the bacteria in their lungs is at any one time, and when they are starting to have an exacerbation," Dr Auton said.

Aseptika was awarded phase one funding from NHS Midlands and East and the Health Enterprise East's second Small Business Research Initiative competition in 2011. The firm also secured phase two funds in May last year.