The Institute for Molecular Science and Engineering (IMSE) has announced it will fund new collaborations within Imperial and with external partners.
IMSE is transforming the way molecular scale science is used to solve societal and industrial challenges. As part of this, the Institute is funding the development of new cross-disciplinary collaborations and research directions, with a view to developing larger funding proposals in future.
The growing societal challenge of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is an age-related disease that causes bones to become brittle and fracture, affecting 200 million people worldwide and causing fractures annually. Hip-fractures are the most serious killing more than 3 in 10 people and leaving 2 in 10 needing constant nursing care. To improve health and well-being for people who suffer with Osteoporosis, we need better clinical care and more effective fracture prevention.
IMSE is funding a project, lead by Dr Richard Abel in the Department of Surgery and Cancer, that will advance our understanding of the nanoscale mechanics of fracture. The project aims to test the effect of changing amounts of collagen cross-links on nanoscale fractures in bones.
Alzheimer's disease, and other forms of dementia, affects 54 million people worldwide. This number is predicted to rise to 152 million people by 2050. Despite treatments being available for decades, no drug on the market can reverse or slow the progression of the disease. For over 20 years, passive immunisation, whereby antibodies are administered to the patient, has continued to improve in efficacy and in our mechanistic understanding of how they work.
A seed funded project lead by Professor Nicholas Long hopes to gain a better understanding of how drugs could help with the long-term goal to treat using short-pulse ultrasound. The project is a collaboration across the Departments of Bioengineering, Chemistry and Brain Sciences within Imperial.
Emissions from car tyres
Tyre emissions are an understudied aspect of particulate emissions from transport. In terms of particulate mass emitted per mile driven, tyre emissions are comparable to exhaust emissions. Tyre particulate is also the main source of micro-plastics in the ocean, not to mention its numerous impacts on human health.
An IMSE seed funded project lead by Dr Marc Masen in the Department of Mechanical Engineering will investigate the mechanisms involved in generating tyre particulates and develop a prototype system for reducing tyre particle emission. It is hoped that the project will lead to the creation of a tyre-road interaction community within Imperial College London.
Testing for respiratory disease
Current testing of respiratory infectious diseases is laborious, expensive and time consuming. Respiratory infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, are a massive burden to health systems globally. Standard detection methods require skilled professionals and around 3 hours for sample preparation and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing. There is a clear need to develop a rapid diagnostic for respiratory infectious diseases.
By modifying our current patented technologies, a seed funded project lead by Dr Ruth Reid in the Department of Infectious Disease aims to generate a proof-in-concept rapid test (under 30 minutes) for various respiratory infectious diseases. The team propose to use saliva to detect the presence of respiratory pathogens including COVID-19 and influenza A & B.
The 20 second rule
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic people are advised to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds to achieve the claimed efficacy. Despite the lack of a rigorous basis for the “20 second rule”, there is growing pressure (and commercial opportunity) to reduce this timescale to a verifiable minimum.
The seed project by Dr Gunjan Tyagi (pictured above) seeks to start a new collaboration between chemical engineers, photo-chemists and material scientists towards the development of light-switchable smart surfactants for fast anti-microbial/viral action.
Infection from surgical procedures
Wound infections created by an invasive surgical procedure are generally referred to as surgical site infections (SSIs). Over 10 million surgical procedures are performed annually in the UK and .5% of patients will develop a SSI. SSI’s are a leading cause for postoperative morbidity and mortality, and account for approximately 31% of all hospital acquired infections.
A seed funded project by Professor Daryl Williams will provide critical proof of principle microbiology data for evaluating, under controlled laboratory conditions, the performance of established antimicrobial treatments/coatings when deployed to actual clinical devices.
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