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.
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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
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Birminghams lifesaving battlefield skills showcased at Arab Health 2018

Birminghams lifesaving battlefield skills showcased at Arab Health 2018
An esteemed military surgeon, who helps treat some of the world’s most complex battlefield injuries, will present at Arab Health’s first ever Trauma and Acute Care Surgery Conference.
Colonel Nigel Tai, a Consultant Trauma and Vascular Surgeon, will share his experience from Birmingham’s Edgbaston Medical Quarter (EMQ) – a world leader in battlefield trauma.
In his presentation Col Tai will discuss how military and civilian trauma surgeons and scientists share expertise and research to boost survival rates of those suffering severe trauma.
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, run by the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, is a designated Major Trauma Centre and holds the contract to treat all UK injured military personnel evacuated from combat zones overseas.
The area also includes the Centre for Defence Healthcare Engagement (CDHE), who are the forefront of leading and delivering efficient and effective Defence medical healthcare engagement on a national and international stage.
Speaking ahead of the congress, Colonel Tai said: “In Birmingham our specialist teams treat the most complex injuries suffered by victims which includes massive internal bleeding, brain injury, multiple fractures and cardiac failure.”
“Without this infrastructure and the early interventions received, many of these patients would not have survived and they would not have realised their full potential for rehabilitation and recovery. It’s a pleasure to be able to share the expertise and knowledge that we have gained in Birmingham with an international audience in the Middle East.”
New to the Arab Health agenda, the Trauma and Acute Care Surgery conference scientific programme aims to improve standards of care for the trauma cases.
With the theme ‘Beating the odds with evidence-based practice’, the conference will also focus on updates in humanitarian military interventions to ensure continuous development and implementation of good practice in the field of military medicine.
Located on the Calthorpe Estate, EMQ has a rapidly growing healthcare and life sciences community, supported by internationally-renowned training and educational facilities. It is fast becoming a ‘go to’ centre for clinical trials in addition to general medical and healthcare excellence and already provides over 60% of the healthcare provision for Birmingham.
Within EMQ there are over 180 medical organisations, 80 hospitals and specialist care centres and 44 GP clinics and routine care facilities, along with 23 training facilities. The area also boasts a powerful cluster of advanced research centres, healthcare institutions and academic centres, and has gained a strong reputation for its healthcare and life sciences excellence at a regional, national and international level.
Arab Health will take place from 29 January – 1 February 2018 at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre. EMQ stand will be located on the UK Pavilion hall 7, stand H7.D50.
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Building stronger links between the Middle East and the West Midlands

Birmingham’s Edgbaston Medical Quarter (EMQ) – a healthcare and life sciences hub located in the heart of the UK – offers vast investment opportunities and health innovation for the Middle East, Europe, USA and the Far East.
The area is an optimum investment destination for healthcare and life sciences businesses. Calthorpe Estates, a family-owned investor, developer and landowner manages the prestigious 640-hectare Edgbaston estate and is dedicated to providing top class facilities and creating the best places to live and work.
At Arab Health 2018, the EMQ stand will showcase world class facilities and collaboration opportunities available, which aim to improve health outcomes and drive sustainable economic growth. The exhibition also offers a platform to generate interest from the Middle East and international audiences to forge stronger relationships.
Over the last year, the West Midlands has capitalised on its position as the UK’s largest medical devices cluster, and Europe’s biggest cluster of focused clinical trials. There are now more than 1,000 medical and healthcare companies here, including 550 medical technology companies – more than any other UK region. The sector employs more than 22,000 people and generates annual turnover of £1.2bn.
Some of the key areas of health expertise includes – advanced diagnostics, genomics and precision medicine, digital health, trauma and battle field surgery, diabetes, cancer and leukaemia. Innovations include ground-breaking tools that help people with long-term conditions manage their health, exciting new diagnostic devices and partnerships with academia and industry to grow translational research into personalised healthcare.
Supporting the EMQ stand is the West Midlands Academic Health Science Network (WMAHSN), the Birmingham Health Partners and the Institute for Translational Medicine who are working together to support collaboration between industry, academia and the healthcare system. Together their ultimate aim is to attract further
investment in to the Edgbaston Medical Quarter, Greater Birmingham and Solihull and the wider West Midlands region.
Tony Davis, Commercial Director at the WMAHSN, said: “We are proud to be at Arab Health to showcase the West Midlands’ commitment to becoming the place to invest and deliver life sciences and healthcare innovation. Whatever the area of expertise, the region is looking to support and grow its life sciences sector by creating an environment in which tomorrow’s innovations can be discovered today. We have a global approach to business development and are really keen to showcase this in the Middle East.”
Arab Health will take place from 29 January – 1 February 2018 at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre. EMQ stand will be located on the UK Pavilion, hall 7, stand H7.D50.
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Alta Innovations relaunches as University of Birmingham Enterprise

8 January 2018: Alta Innovations Ltd, the 100%-owned technology transfer company for the University of Birmingham, announces it has changed its name to University of Birmingham Enterprise Ltd.
Under the new name, University of Birmingham Enterprise Ltd will carry on the operations of Alta Innovations, including IP, licensing, and the Academic Consultancy Service.
The new name will also be used as the name of the University directorate which provides end to end support for academic innovators, enterprise training and spinout development, and manages the incubation services and facilities at the Birmingham Research Park.
The directorate also manages the University funds that bridge the gap between research funding and commercial investment, and provides start-up incubation services that are available to both academics and SMEs in the Birmingham area.
University of Birmingham Enterprise has shown consistent high performance in identifying and commercialising intellectual property. In the 2016-7 year the company filed 70 patents, and signed 20 commercial licenses.
This performance has been matched in spinout development. The University now has 36 spinout companies, which attracted £10.2m investment in 2016-7.
Dr James Wilkie, CEO of University of Birmingham Enterprise commented: “In practice the wholly-owned trading company and the departments within the directorate have been working in close collaboration for many years. We have had a great deal of success and felt it was the right time to change the name and make it clear we operate on behalf of an educational charity, the
University of Birmingham. Matching the name of the company to the name of the directorate will also ensure we have a consistent profile to external stakeholders including funders and commercial partners.”
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Edgbaston Medical Quarter returns to Arab Health 2018 to showcase healthcare and medical excellence across Birmingham

Edgbaston Medical Quarter (EMQ) are once again returning to Arab Health 2018 to showcase the vast range of pioneering healthcare and life sciences companies that are located within Birmingham.
Managed by the Calthorpe Estate, EMQ is attracting a rapidly growing healthcare and life sciences community with leading clinics such as Circle Health, Care Fertility, and Re:cognition choosing to have a base within the medical hub.
Located in the heart of the UK, the area has an excellent cluster of medical research and healthcare facilities with specialist care centres, many of which are within walking distance of one another. It is directly accessible from the UAE via Birmingham International Airport and has strong transport links to London.
The area also boasts a powerful group of healthcare institutions, advanced research and academic hubs and is a centre of excellence for both trauma and leukaemia. It is supported by internationally renowned training and educational facilities and is fast becoming a ‘go to’ centre for clinical trials. Within EMQ there are over 180 medical organisations, 80 hospitals and specialist care centres and 44 GP clinics and routine care facilities, along with 23 training facilities.
This is the second year EMQ have attended Arab Health to showcase the healthcare revolution which is taking place in the West Midlands. As well as exhibiting within the exhibition, EMQ also have a speaker at the Trauma and Acute Care Surgery Conference, which is a new addition to the congress this year. Col Nigel Tai, Consultant Trauma and Vascular Surgeon from The Centre For Defence Healthcare Engagement (CDHE) will represent EMQ by speaking about trauma systems around the world and how Birmingham is a leader within this field.
Mark Lee, Chief Executive, Calthorpe Estates, said: “It’s great to be at Arab Health to showcase Birmingham’s Edgbaston Medical Quarter. EMQ is an optimum investment destination for healthcare and life sciences organisations and we are delighted that a growing number of new clinics and life science companies are moving to the area. As well offering healthcare expertise, it has the capacity to grow with a range of accommodation from new build to period properties offering hospital, clinical or consulting room space. It’s an exciting area and we are proud to be attracting eminently qualified and experienced clinicians through to internationally renowned operators.”
The Arab Health Exhibition & Congress is taking place from 29th January to the 1st February 2018, at the Dubai Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Research could pave the way for pre-hospital treatment for seriously injured patients

Scientists hope to have paved the way for the development of potentially new life-saving treatments to be administered to seriously injured patients in the critical first hour of injury.
By testing the blood samples of 91 patients taken at the scene of major accidents, scientists were able for the first time to establish how quickly the lining of blood vessels are damaged, which can lead to a rapid deterioration and even organ failure.
The research, published today (Tuesday 12 December) in Shock, is part of the ongoing ‘Golden Hour’ study led by scientists from the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Inflammation and Ageing, the NIHR Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology Research Centre (SRMRC) and the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham.
A major £10 million study, Golden Hour aims at improving outcomes for patients by developing the understanding of what happens to the immune system within the first 60 minutes from the moment of traumatic injury – a crucial time in which prompt medical treatment is key to survival.
Major David Naumann, a research fellow at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine and the University of Birmingham, said: “When someone is very seriously injured, for example in a car crash, the body sometimes behaves as if there is a massive infection that it needs to fight, even when none is present.
“When this happens, the immune system can cause the patient to deteriorate rapidly and could even cause their organs to fail.”
Dr Jon Hazeldine, of the University of Birmingham, continues: “One of the things that may be to blame for this process is endotheliopathy which occurs when the lining of blood vessels is damaged.
“Prior to our study, it was not known when this process happens after injury, or whether having endotheliopathy within an hour of injury might lead to organ failure later on in hospital.”
Professor Janet Lord, of the University of Birmingham, says: “We found that the damage to the lining of the blood vessels happens within minutes of injury, even before an ambulance has arrived, which has never been shown before.
“We also found that if the lining of the blood vessels improves in the following few hours that patients have lower rates of organ failure.”
Professor Tony Belli, also of the University of Birmingham, adds: “Our research has identified a potential target for treatment, to heal the damaged blood vessels, which could be administered by ambulance and helicopter crews on arrival at the scene of injury and improve outcomes for injured patients.
“As part of our ongoing Golden Hour study we have several ongoing studies examining the causes of endotheliopathy and which treatments may best be used to treat it.”
Read the full article here.

New centre launches to help small and medium-sized businesses accelerate the development of medical innovations

A new centre has been launched in collaboration with the University of Birmingham aimed at providing a central space for small and medium-sized businesses to accelerate the development of medical innovations.
The Medical Devices Testing and Evaluation Centre (MD-TEC) is located in the state-of-the-art Institute for Translational Medicine (ITM), a facility on the site of Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB) which was delivered through Birmingham Health Partners – an alliance between University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB), the University of Birmingham and Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.
MD-TEC is being led by UHB, with key delivery partners being the University of Birmingham, Aston University, Birmingham City University, Birmingham Community Healthcare Trust and the West Midlands Academic Health Science Network.
An event to mark the launch of MD-TEC is due to take place on January 17 2018, which will allow guests to tour of the facilities and will include talks by key staff members.
Liam Grover, Professor in Biomaterials Science at the University of Birmingham’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, will lead biomaterials development, while Dr Tom Clutton-Brock, senior lecturer at the College of Medical and Dental Sciences, Clinical Director of the NIHR Trauma Management Healthcare Technology Co-operative and Deputy Director of the ITM, will lead medical device usability and safety testing.
Dr Clutton-Brock said: “The new Medical Devices Testing and Evaluation Centre (MD-TEC) promises to be a game changer, in terms of ensuring medical devices are fit for purpose and successfully reach market faster.
“Evidence suggests that the majority of device related adverse incidents are user related, so it is crucial that usability testing is included in a device’s technical file.
“Many devices undergo significant re-design after introduction into clinical practice, which is very costly to the life sciences industry.”
“MD-TEC will provide a dedicated test facility for medical technology companies to test the usability of their technology in a realistic environment, using real clinical staff without placing patients at risk.”
MD-TEC has been supported through the European Regional Development Fund and will boost the life science economy in the Greater Birmingham area.
It will act as a central space to accelerate the development of medical innovations for small and medium-sized businesses.
MD-TEC will offer a range of support, including med-tech materials, and the facilities will include purpose-built replicas of key clinical areas.
It will boost the growing regional reputation for medical device development, including collaboration with the NHS and academia, as well as the commercialisation of devices.
For more information on MD-TEC, please contact Sian Dunning, MD-TEC project manager on +44(0)121 371 8540.

University of Birmingham experts unite in World Antibiotic Awareness Week

Scientists from the University of Birmingham are uniting to support World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW) from November 13th to 19th
The face of the University’s ‘Old Joe’ clock tower will be lit blue to mark the awareness week, which is led by the World Health Organization and aims to encourage people to seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional before taking antibiotics.
Antimicrobial resistance is becoming an increasingly serious threat. If not addressed, by 2050 it could kill millions of people – more than from cancer or road traffic accidents.
The University of Birmingham has one of the biggest teams of microbiologists in the European Union, devoted to tackling this global issue by carrying out pioneering research to better understand how bacteria cause infection, how antibiotics work, the causes of resistance, prevention of spread of resistant bacteria and finding new ways to treat infections.
Professor Laura Piddock, of the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Microbiology and Infection, said: “Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi.
“New resistance mechanisms are emerging and spreading globally, threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases, resulting in prolonged illness, disability, and death.
“Without effective antimicrobials for prevention and treatment of infections, medical procedures such as organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy, diabetes management and major surgery become very high risk.
“Antimicrobial resistance occurs naturally over time, usually through genetic changes. However, the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials is providing the pressure to select drug resistant microbes.
“The University of Birmingham is leading the way in carrying out vital new research to tackle this global threat.”
Read the full article here.

University Superbug technologies set to combat the rise of antibiotic resistance

Two medical devices developed by University of Birmingham researchers to help the fight against antibiotic resistance will be exhibited in the Superbugs: The Fight For Our Lives exhibition, which opens at the Science Museum in London on November 9th.

Spinout Linear Diagnostics, whose device can perform a test for both bacteria and antibiotic resistance from the same sample, will be exhibiting alongside GFC Diagnostics, whose test detects antibiotic resistance genes in bacteria using a simple easy to use device called Safetube.

While the two technologies are very different, both are displayed because they have entered the competition for the Longitude Prize.

The Longitude Prize was inaugurated in 2014, and is a £10million prize fund that will reward a competitor that can develop a diagnostic test that will help save antibiotics for future generations. Entries for the prize have to meet an exacting set of criteria – the device has to be affordable, accurate, fast and easy-to-use at the point of care.

The two entries from Birmingham have been designed to help prevent the inappropriate use of antibiotics, which fuels antibiotic resistance.
The Linear Diagnostics’ device uses polarized light to measure the alignment of detector molecules. When these molecules are flowing in solution they are aligned, but when they attach to the target – which can be either bacteria, or antibiotic resistance genes from bacteria – they lose alignment and the measurement changes.

The device will be used for early diagnosis, and to check that the antibiotic prescribed is not one the bacteria are resistant to. Its first use is expected in the UK in 2018, when it will be trialled in hospitals and GP surgeries as a detector for anti-microbial resistant Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs).

GFC’s device uses a proprietary DNA hybridisation technology called Microscreen to rapidly detect the genes in bacteria responsible for antibiotic resistance. The device was developed in the University of Birmingham and is used in the company’s other products which are on the market. The MicroScreen technology enables the detection of the antibiotic resistance genes to be made quickly and simply , it needs no laboratory equipment and the end result is a colour change which makes it ideal for use in a wide range of situations across the world. The product will be tested on clinical samples next month.

Dr James Wilkie, CEO of University of Birmingham Enterprise, commented: “ The University has major research strengths in infectious diseases and anti-microbial resistance and a strong inventive pipeline in diagnostic technologies. We are delighted that the Science Museum has chosen two University of Birmingham technologies to exhibit in the forthcoming exhibition.”