The Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network announced that, following attendance at one of their events, members have been awarded over £11m in funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to establish a new Healthcare Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration (IRC).
The new IRC will be led by Dr Rachel McKendry from UCL (University College London), together with Newcastle University, Imperial College London, and The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and will develop next generation smart phone technologies that allow doctors to test and track serious infectious diseases – such as new strains of influenza, HIV and MRSA - much earlier than ever before, empowering patients to gain faster access to treatment and protecting the public.
A number of industrial project partners will also be involved in the IRC including Microsoft Research, OJ-Bio Ltd, Mologic Ltd, Cambridge Life Sciences Ltd, Zurich Instruments and O2 Health.
Working together, the IRC partners will develop low cost, easy to use smart phone-connected diagnostic tests based on advances in nanotechnology to rapidly diagnose infections in community settings including GP surgeries, elderly care homes, developing countries or even at home. Results will be sent securely to healthcare systems, alerting doctors to potentially serious outbreaks with geographically linked information. The system will also track reported illness and symptoms across populations by searching millions of on-line sources including internet searches and social media posts to identify outbreaks even before people attend clinics or from resource-limited settings.
Dr Rachel McKendry from UCL and Dr Dale Athey from OJ-Bio first met whilst both attending the NanoKTN’s Miniaturisation in Healthcare Products event in November 2011. The meeting has already led to a successful collaboration last year where both partners were awarded over £1m i4i funding from the National Institute for Health Research for rapid, early warning HIV test development.
Dr Rachel McKendry, Reader in Biomedical Nanoscience at the London Centre for Nanotechnology and lead investigator from UCL said: “We attended the NanoKTN’s Miniaturisation in Healthcare Products event back in November 2011 and met with OJ-Bio. Our subsequent work with OJ-Bio has played a key role in the new IRC grant. With EPSRC funding we now aim to create a new generation of mobile test and web-tracking systems that could save millions of people from deadly diseases such as new strains of influenza, HIV and MRSA. The revolution in mobile communication, nanotechnology, genomics, and 'big data' analysis offers tremendous opportunities to 'actively' manage outbreaks and ultimately to prevent infectious diseases. I am delighted to bring together some of the very best researchers in the UK to create innovative 21st century technologies in the battle against infectious diseases."
Dr Felicity Sartain, Theme Manager - Healthcare & Life Sciences at the NanoKTN added, “At the NanoKTN, we work pro-actively with our members to encourage collaboration, knowledge transfer, cross-disciplinary research between key players in industry and academia to develop the next generation of nanotechnology solutions. Our events provide the ideal platform for delegates to come together to learn about innovative products and services and to collaborate on new projects to meet market needs and deliver UK growth. We are delighted to hear that this collaboration, as a direct result from attending one of our events, has led to a second successful funding bid.”