Innovative eye researchers shortlisted for Meridian Celebration of Innovation Awards

Professor Alastair Denniston, of the University of Birmingham and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, and his team have been shortlisted for a prestigious award celebrating the best of innovation in healthcare around the region.
 
Along with collaborators from City University London and Moorfields Eye Hospital, the team have been given the nod in the 'Advanced Diagnostics, Genomics and Precision Medicine Award' category of the West Midlands Academic Health Science Network (WMAHSN)’s third annual Meridian Celebration of Innovation Awards.
 
"We believe that our innovation could significantly improve how we care for patients with sight-threatening inflammation, a serious condition known as ‘uveitis'," explained Professor Denniston.
 
"We have developed a way of using existing retinal scanners to measure the level of inflammation in the eye – all in a matter of seconds. For the patient it is like having a photograph. For the doctor it should give them the confidence to make better treatment decisions, moving from old-fashioned clinical estimates, to accurate precision medicine based on an advanced diagnostic tool.
 
"The second phase of the trial is being led by our brilliant doctoral researcher, Dr Xiao Liu, and we are very excited to see the results."
 
Dr Christopher Parker, WMAHSN Managing Director, commented: “We are delighted to announce that Professor Denniston and his team have been shortlisted. This is the third year of our awards to recognise and celebrate the work of individuals and organisations across the region in delivering better health and care. All of our shortlisted entrants are answering real challenges that face professionals, patients and carers every day…" Read more.
 
 

Hospital plans at Pebble Mill given second chance

Plans for a new private hospital and research institution to be built on the site of the former BBC studios at Pebble Mill, Birmingham, have been recommended for approval for a second time.
 
Pebble Mill Investments is behind the latest proposals for its long-running regeneration of the site in Edgbaston, which is already home to a new dental school.
 
Birmingham City Council was set to vote on 24 May 2018 on whether to grant permission for the 96,875 sq ft medical complex, which will also include 167 parking spaces, but councillors decided to delay making a final decision until more information was provided.
 
The plans for the eight-storey building, which would face onto Pebble Mill Road and be used for research and development as well as a private hospital, will now be debated at a meeting on Thursday 21 June.
 
The original application was submitted in 2017 for plot four but the applicant has added a further 43,000 sq ft to the proposals since then.
 
Since the BBC relocated to the Mailbox in Birmingham city centre in 2003, the £50m Dental Hospital and University of Birmingham's School of Dentistry was opened in April 2016 while construction of a new private hospital by Circle Health is expected to be completed later this year.
 
Bupa has also opening a 62-bed care home and there will also be other leisure and retail uses including a pub and cafe and student accommodation while new sport fields have opened.
 
A new council document published ahead of the meeting said: "The proposed development complies with both local and national policy.
 
"The scale of the development proposed is considered acceptable for the site and would have no detrimental impact on neighbouring occupiers or the character and appearance of the local area…" Read the full article here.
 

BioHub Birmingham tenant to develop rapid diagnostic test for mastitis in dairy cows

Abingdon Health, a tenant at the University of Birmingham’s bio-incubator, is developing a rapid diagnostic test for bovine mastitis, a common and serious health problem in dairy cows, which has an estimated £14-23 billion impact on the global dairy industry1.

Mastitis is usually caused by bacterial infection in the cow’s teats or udder, and reduces the quality of milk, rendering it unsaleable – and can be fatal to the cow.

Currently mastitis is detected by visual inspecting the milk, and the type of infection is confirmed by sending it off for laboratory testing – which is both time-consuming and expensive.

The University’s relationship with Abingdon Health started in 2010, when a joint venture resulted in a new start-up company called Serascience, who developed Seralite®, the world’s first rapid test for multiple myeloma. The test is used in human healthcare and is now available in 70 countries worldwide.

Abingdon’s diagnostic test for mastitis will be based on a lateral flow technology that can be used on the farm, to identify the type of bacteria that caused the infection.

Test results will ensure that the cow is quickly prescribed the right antibiotic to treat the infection, and it is expected that this will reduce the inappropriate use of antibiotics, and the spread of disease between cattle in milking herds.

The test will aim to provide sensitive measurements in order to stratify mastitis by bacterial class (gram-negative or gram-positive).

Dr David Pritchard, Chief Technical Officer of Abingdon Health Ltd, commented: “The pressure to reduce the use of antimicrobials in food production is growing rapidly. To do this, we need to provide farmers with rapid diagnostic tests that guide the choice of antibiotic, and ensure animals are treated quickly and effectively with the right antibiotic. We also believe this test will provide benefits to the dairy industry in terms of milk quality and yield, and to the cattle in terms of animal welfare.”

 
1. Statistic from https://www.gla.ac.uk/news/archiveofnews/2016/july/headline_475363_en.html
 

University of Birmingham collaboration to help develop new drugs for global epidemics

University of Birmingham scientists are working with partners at the Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health (GIBH), China, to develop new drugs that could help tackle global epidemics.
 
University of Birmingham researchers have already identified a number of compounds that are looking promising as potential therapeutic treatments, and University of Birmingham Enterprise, the University’s technology transfer company, is optimistic that the collaboration will result in novel drugs for infectious diseases.
 
The chemistry for drug candidates is designed by a team of Birmingham researchers led by Professor John Fossey, Reader in Synthetic Chemistry, and Dr Luke Alderwick, Director of the Birmingham Drug Discovery Facility.
 
The team of expert GIBH researchers then design and synthesize new molecules with better drug-like properties.
 
The biological activity of the resulting molecules is then tested by both institutions before the molecules are optimised further.
 
This process is expedited by the rapid sharing of data through the University of Birmingham’s BEAR DataShare facility, which was developed by the University to enable secure sharing of project-related data across the world, even by mobile phone.
 
The University of Birmingham has a long-standing relationship with the city of Guangzhou, which is also the sister city of Birmingham itself. The University opened its Guangzhou Centre in 2011 and its China Institute has forged close links with
partners in the city and beyond.
 
GIBH is a high-profile research institute, run by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the People’s Government of Guangdong Province and the People’s Government of Guangzhou Municipality. Research areas include stem cell and regenerative medicine, chemical biology, public health, immunology and infectious diseases.
 

From international Businessman to Visiting Professor and Deputy Lieutenant

One of the country’s leading experts in medical technology is enjoying a double celebration after joining Birmingham City University as a Visiting Professor and being announced as Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands.
 
Professor Martin Levermore is the founder and Chief Executive of MDTi, a West-Midlands based company that works with the NHS to design and produce innovative medical products.
 
He has been appointed as a Visiting Professor at the University to help pass on his expertise to the next generation of healthcare workers training at the institution.
 
Professor Levermore has also been named as Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands to support the Lord-Lieutenant who serves as the Queen’s representative in the region.
 
Professor Levermore will be based in the University’s Life Sciences department working with staff and students to develop bio-sensors and other healthcare technology which are efficient in monitoring and managing patients in need of clinical supervision remotely.
 
He will also be working to promote critical nursing development and training within Commonwealth developing economies.
 
Professor Martin Levermore said:
 
“It is so heart-warming to be the recipient of two great honours and having my years of work acknowledged like this. I’m so looking forward to getting stuck into this important work with staff and students at the University which I hope will make a difference.
 
“I’m looking forward to developing links within the industry to ensure a strong and robust pathway for student placements and employability both in the UK and further afield.
 
“Being a Deputy Lieutenant will also bring along some great opportunities and important responsibilities. It is a great honour to be given this title.”
 
Martin has been appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands by Lord Lieutenant, Sir John Crabtree OBE. The role will see him support the Lord Lieutenant in public events and civic duties for the region.
 
MDTi has become an internationally known organisation that produces unique and state-of-the-art medicinal products to support patient care.
 
Medical innovations produced by MDTi are known to have improved the lives of millions of patients worldwide and vary from in-hospital equipment for practitioners’ use on patients, to equipment for patients to use remotely while recovering at home from procedures.
 
Martin will be joining academics based at the newly re-developed City South Campus in Edgbaston which officially opens its doors later this month. Read the ful article here.
 
Source: https://www.bcu.ac.uk/news-events/news/from-international-businessman-to-visiting-professor-and-deputy-lieutenant
 

New cancer centre at private hospital in Edgbaston

People in the Midlands diagnosed with cancer will be able to receive quick access to appointments and treatment thanks to a new cancer centre at BMI The Priory Hospital in Edgbaston.
 
The department has been relocated to a different part of the hospital, which not only offers outpatient treatment but also in-patient care to create an all-encompassing private healthcare facility.
 
It will retain the name ‘Highbury’ Centre but the newly refurbished centre now includes six in-patient bedrooms, ten patient pods and four consultation rooms, as well as a tranquil garden area for patients and visitors to enjoy in spring and summer.
 
The Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor Anne Underwood officially unveiled the centre and was joined by staff, local general practitioners and consultants from the hospital. Read more.
 

University of Birmingham to lead Midlands Innovation Commercialisation of Research Accelerator (MICRA)

10th April 2018: The University of Birmingham is to lead a connected system of incubators and accelerators that will drive jobs and economic growth across the Midlands region, following a £5 million award announced today by Research England.
The award will establish MICRA as the largest formal technology transfer collaboration in the UK, providing a single gateway to the collective intellectual property (IP) resources from the eight Midlands Innovation universities – Aston, Birmingham, Cranfield, Keele, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick.
The Midlands Innovation universities already generate more new inventions and patents per unit of research income than any other leading group of UK universities, and the funding is expected to be a key driver for significant new investment and jobs in the region.
Collaborating with industry and organisations from all sectors, the MICRA programme will provide support and access for enterprise development, investment and investor relationships to help entrepreneurs drive their ideas forward, meet a wider community of like-minded people and find the right targeted incubation support within the partnership.
Dr James Wilkie, Director of Enterprise & Innovation at the University of Birmingham, commented: “The Midlands of the UK has a strong track record of innovation and tremendous capacity for growth. We are very proud to be leading this initiative that brings together our leading universities to provide a single point of contact for investors.”
“Collaborating with strategic partners is crucial. It allows us to collectively offer a critical mass of innovation for the region and appeal to investors who are seeking long-term investment opportunities,” says Dr Helen Turner, Midlands Innovation Director.
 
“Offering a single-route that makes it easy for investors to access opportunities and enhance the support available for growing businesses is highly appealing. Attracting large ‘patient capital’ investors who are willing to back new ideas with vision and management talent, and who understand the potential for success will drive new growth businesses and new high value jobs in the UK economy.”
With state-of-the-art technology platforms, science parks and incubators, the Midlands Innovation partnership is well positioned to underpin the social and economic fabric of the Midlands. Working across the partnership, the Technology Transfer Offices will be able to access Intellectual Property Case Managers with detailed sector knowledge quickly and efficiently.
Professor Stuart Croft, Chair of the Midlands Innovation Board and Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Warwick, commented: “I am delighted that the Midlands Innovation partnership continues to go from strength to strength with the announcement of this Connecting Capability Fund Award from Research England. Our expertise and capabilities cuts across all disciplines, and its rewarding to see how this activity is now translating into new and exciting strands for the partnership.”
The University of Birmingham is already well known for the economic and social benefits of its research. It shares its knowledge and expertise to help a wide range of enterprises, including entrepreneurs, start-ups, social ventures and major industrial concerns to innovate and grow.
 

University of Birmingham to lead Midlands Innovation Commercialisation of Research Accelerator (MICRA)

10th April 2018: The University of Birmingham is to lead a connected system of incubators and accelerators that will drive jobs and economic growth across the Midlands region, following a £5 million award announced today by Research England.
The award will establish MICRA as the largest formal technology transfer collaboration in the UK, providing a single gateway to the collective intellectual property (IP) resources from the eight Midlands Innovation universities – Aston, Birmingham, Cranfield, Keele, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick.
The Midlands Innovation universities already generate more new inventions and patents per unit of research income than any other leading group of UK universities, and the funding is expected to be a key driver for significant new investment and jobs in the region.
Collaborating with industry and organisations from all sectors, the MICRA programme will provide support and access for enterprise development, investment and investor relationships to help entrepreneurs drive their ideas forward, meet a wider community of like-minded people and find the right targeted incubation support within the partnership.
Dr James Wilkie, Director of Enterprise & Innovation at the University of Birmingham, commented: “The Midlands of the UK has a strong track record of innovation and tremendous capacity for growth. We are very proud to be leading this initiative that brings together our leading universities to provide a single point of contact for investors.”
“Collaborating with strategic partners is crucial. It allows us to collectively offer a critical mass of innovation for the region and appeal to investors who are seeking long-term investment opportunities,” says Dr Helen Turner, Midlands Innovation Director.
 
“Offering a single-route that makes it easy for investors to access opportunities and enhance the support available for growing businesses is highly appealing. Attracting large ‘patient capital’ investors who are willing to back new ideas with vision and management talent, and who understand the potential for success will drive new growth businesses and new high value jobs in the UK economy.”
With state-of-the-art technology platforms, science parks and incubators, the Midlands Innovation partnership is well positioned to underpin the social and economic fabric of the Midlands. Working across the partnership, the Technology Transfer Offices will be able to access Intellectual Property Case Managers with detailed sector knowledge quickly and efficiently.
Professor Stuart Croft, Chair of the Midlands Innovation Board and Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Warwick, commented: “I am delighted that the Midlands Innovation partnership continues to go from strength to strength with the announcement of this Connecting Capability Fund Award from Research England. Our expertise and capabilities cuts across all disciplines, and its rewarding to see how this activity is now translating into new and exciting strands for the partnership.”
The University of Birmingham is already well known for the economic and social benefits of its research. It shares its knowledge and expertise to help a wide range of enterprises, including entrepreneurs, start-ups, social ventures and major industrial concerns to innovate and grow.
 

Multi-million pound award aims to create new breakthrough therapies

A recently-formed health consortium, jointly led by the National Institute for Health Research Birmingham Biomedical Research Centre (NIHR Birmingham BRC) and NHS Wales, has been awarded £7 million by Innovate UK to ensure more patients benefit from a new generation of breakthrough therapies.
 
The Midlands & Wales Advanced Therapy Treatment Centre (MW-ATTC) will operate from four centres: University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB), Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board and Nottingham University Hospital.
 
The Midlands-Wales collaborative is one of only three centres in Britain awarded funding from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund by Innovate UK, the government’s innovation agency, to develop an advanced therapy treatment centre.
 
The NIHR Birmingham BRC is a partnership between University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Birmingham, and has a long-standing track record in cell therapy innovation and translation. NHS Wales will be joint lead for this centre though the Welsh Blood Service, Velindre NHS Trust.
 
Its vision is to enable UK Advanced Therapy Medicinal Product (ATMP) companies to reach the clinical market while building clinical capacity across the UK to benefit patient outcomes.
 
ATMPs, which can be cell or gene therapies, show great potential in treating patients with conditions that cannot be cured with current treatments. These include arthritis, liver disease, several types of cancer, and diabetic ulcers.
 
Read the full article here.
Source: www.birmingham.ac.uk
  

NHS and WMAHSN roll out new tech in West Midlands to prevent 540 strokes and save 12.1 million

NHS & WMAHSN roll out new tech in West Midlands to prevent 540 strokes and save £12.1 million
 
Innovative new technology is being rolled out across the West Midlands in a campaign launched today (Thursday 15 February). Made available as part of a national campaign, it is estimated that the devices could prevent 540 strokes and save 135 lives in just two years.
 
More than 500 new devices including mobile electrocardiogram (ECG) units are being distributed by the West Midlands Academic Health Science Network (WMAHSN) to GP practices, pharmacies and NHS community clinics across the region. The new devices detect irregular heart rhythms quickly and easily, enabling NHS staff to refer any patients with irregular heart rhythms for follow up, as they could be at risk of severe stroke.
 
Experts estimate that more than 420,000 people across England have undiagnosed irregular heart rhythm, which can cause stroke if not detected and treated appropriately, usually through blood-thinning medication to prevent clots that lead to stroke.
 
The rollout is being unveiled during National Heart Month, which raises awareness of heart conditions and encourages everyone to make small changes towards a healthier lifestyle.
 
The new technology includes a smartphone-linked device that works via an app and a new blood pressure cuff that also detects heart rhythms. Small and easy-to-use, NHS staff can also take the devices on home visits to patients to check for irregular heart rhythms.
 
The new technology will allow more staff in more settings to quickly and easily conduct pulse checks. As a result, the project is expected to identify 19,000 new cases of irregular heart rhythms (known as Atrial Fibrillation) over two years, which could prevent up to 540 strokes and save £12.1m in associated health and costs.
 
The devices are being rolled out by the 15 NHS and care innovation bodies, known as Academic Health Science Networks (AHSN), in the first six months of this year as part of an NHS England-funded project.
 
The clinical lead for Atrial Fibrillation for the West Midlands AHSN, Dr Alex Meyer said: ““More than 39,500 people throughout the West Midlands are unaware they have irregular heart rhythms and of the dangers that this can pose to their health. We have highly effective treatments that can significantly reduce the risk of strokes, but we need to find these patients in order for them to benefit. The NHS can now use cost-effective technology to identify people with irregular heart rhythms more effectively, enabling them to benefit from highly effective treatment. This will save lives.
 
 “As the NHS approaches its 70th birthday this year, this is also a great reminder of the way that healthcare is continually evolving and innovating. Taking advantage of digital health solutions will be even more important for the next 70 years. Today’s new devices are just one example of the way that readily available user-friendly technology has the potential to further improve the quality of the fantastic work that we are doing in the NHS.”
 
One million people in the UK are known to be affected by AF and an additional 422,600 people are undiagnosed. As the most common type of irregular heart rhythm, it is responsible for approximately 20% of all strokes. Survivors must live with the disabling consequences and treating the condition costs the NHS over £2.2 billion each year.
 
Every February is National Heart Month. This year the BHF is encouraging everyone to make small changes towards a healthier lifestyle. See more here.
 
Clinical Commissioning Groups and individual GP practices can apply for the devices. Submissions are now open via the Meridian platform – applicants must register but it is free and easy to do so. The closing date for bids to WMAHSN is Friday 2 March and devices will be distributed later that month.
The hashtag being used to help raise awareness is #KnowYourPulse
 
 
Read the full article here