Eight medical projects win EPSRC funding

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Eight researchers have been awarded grants to address long-term health challenges through the development of innovative healthcare technologies. The recipients will share more than £8 million of funding to develop new solutions ranging from next-generation prosthetic hands and endoscopy devices to cancer treatment devices controlled by the body’s electrical signals.

The funding has been allocated by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) as part of the second Healthcare Technologies Challenge Awards call.

EPSRC chief executive Professor Philip Nelson, pictured, said: “EPSRC’s Healthcare Technologies Challenge Awards are designed to equip the next generation of research leaders with the tools they need to tackle current and emerging health challenges facing society.

“These awards will help them to develop novel therapies that enhance efficiency and reduce risks to patients; create prostheses and other devices to restore normal function; produce minimally-invasive physical interventions to repair damage or remove disease; and optimise treatment for the individual, improving health outcomes.”

Included in the winning projects are the use of polymer bioelectronics in high resolution implantable devices, sensorimotor learning for control of prosthetic limbs, and wireless communication with cells.

Dr Rylie Green from Imperial College will research the implantation of bioelectronic devices, bringing together concepts from tissue engineering, polymer design and bionic device technologies to create soft and flexible polymer bioelectronics that will improve cell interactions, prevent rejection and minimise scar formation.

Dr Kianoush Nazarpour from Newcastle University will take advantage of the brain’s flexibility in learning to control a prosthetic hand, while Dr Frankie Rawson from the University of Nottingham will develop bioelectronic devices which use electrochemical-based wireless technology to avoid invasive surgery and can be applied to treating diseases such as cancer via the control of the body’s electrical signals.