Engineers from Imperial College London have scooped nearly £5 million each in funding from the Engineering and Physical Science Council (EPSRC).
EPSCR have invested a total of £36.5 million in healthcare technology across several projects to transform the way patients are treated for conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and cancer:
- Funding of £20 million will support scientists to develop and test innovative medical treatments and diagnostic tools using the latest advances in quantum, robot technology and imaging.
- A further investment of £16.5 million in new digital healthcare hubs across England will promote knowledge and skills sharing across a range of partners including the NHS, social care providers, universities and businesses.
Transforming early diagnosis and treatment of gut cancers
Research by Professor Ferdinando Rodriguez y Baena, Co-Director of Hamlyn Centre and Professor of Medical Robotics, aims to transform early diagnosis and treatment of gut cancers using flexible endoscopy. A soft robotic endoscope with a probe carrying a miniature surgical laser, and a powerful tissue analysis device will be combined. This automated device will be easier to use than standard endoscopes and will allow endoscopists with less experience to perform the surgery.
The ability to find and treat early tumours will reduce the number of patients requiring further surgery, reduce discomfort and lower the number of tumours that grow back. Automation of key steps of the test - including deployment of the instrument, detection of cancer, and laser surgery – that will eventually allow cancer surgeries to be done in outpatient clinics or GP surgeries.
Imaging the brain with ultrasound full-waveform inversion
Rapid brain imaging is central to the diagnosis and treatment of acute neurological conditions such as stroke or head trauma. Existing imaging methods require large, immobile, high-power instruments that are near-impossible to deploy outside specialized environments, leading to unnecessarily delayed diagnosis and treatment, and higher fatality rates.
A startup from Professor Mike Warner, Department of Earth Science and Engineering, will create a device that can be simply and rapidly applied to any patient, any time, any place, exploiting advances that have already revolutionised imaging in geophysics. The brain will be imaged using ultrasound waves, transmitted across the head, applying advanced computer modelling to remove the distorting effects of the skull, thereby enabling high-resolution high-contrast imaging of the brain unachievable by conventional ultrasound.
Digital Health Hubs
A further £16.5 million will support new digital health hubs across England will drive the development of innovative digital technologies for healthcare.
They will promote knowledge and skills sharing across healthcare, academia and business, and drive innovation in digital health.
Dr Kedar Pandya, Executive Director of Cross-Council Programmes of EPSRC, said:
‘The projects and hubs announced today will deliver a variety of innovative approaches to improve healthcare outcomes for patients. This investment will support scientists and engineers who are transforming the way we treat and diagnose diseases by using the latest developments in robotics, computer modelling and imaging.’
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