International medical pathway for Middle East patients launched at Arab Health 2019

Edgbaston Medical Quarter is launching a new patient pathway to provide a door-to-door service to international private patients for complex healthcare treatments to Birmingham, the UK’s second largest city.
 
International private patients and referrers will have a choice of medical concierge options with transparent costs to access the best of UK treatments in oncology, orthopaedics, trauma, diabetes, rehabilitation, fertility and mental health.
 
Located in the heart of the UK, Edgbaston Medical Quarter is attracting renowned hospitals, specialist care centres and clinicians. The area is a beacon for world-class medical excellence and has become an ideal place for international patients to seek treatment. An example of this is Circle Birmingham Hospital’s new 19,000 sq m (204,514 sq ft) state-of-the-art facility, opening summer 2019, which will treat patients with a wide range of conditions.
 
Birmingham is a cosmopolitan city with over 40% of the population being from ethnic minorities – of which 21.8% are Muslim. Birmingham International Airport offers direct routes to over 150 worldwide destinations including Dubai and other Middle Eastern countries.
 
Within Edgbaston Medical Quarter there are a wide range of accommodation options to suit individual patient needs, from high end boutique hotels and 4-star luxury hotels, to serviced apartments and homes to rent for family groups and longer stays.
 
Birmingham boasts over 570 parks – more than any other European city – totalling over 3,500 hectares (14 sq mi) of public open space. Furthermore, it is home to some of the finest shopping and entertainment in the UK, world-class leisure facilities and 6 Michelin starred restaurants. 
 
Mark Lee, Chief Executive, Calthorpe Estates, which is home to Edgbaston Medical Quarter, said: “Patients choose Edgbaston because of its healthcare excellence, value, and access to eminent clinicians and the latest cutting-edge treatments. Edgbaston Medical Quarter’s medical facilities also sit alongside thriving leisure and lifestyle communities, which means family members and companions can enjoy award-winning places to eat and a host of arts, leisure and sports facilities. It is also a culturally diverse and welcoming city, with beautiful green open spaces which are the perfect place to relax and recover.”
 
“The new medical concierge services deliver a bespoke service and have been designed to guide patients through every aspect of their needs, they help to take the stress away by giving patients and referrers choice, transparency and access to world-class medical care.”
 
To find out more about Edgbaston’s new medical concierge package visit the Edgbaston Medical Quarter stand in the UK Pavilion, Hall 7 stand H7D50.
 
ENDS
 
Notes to Editors
 
Calthorpe Estates home to Edgbaston Medical Quarter, is one of the UK’s most forward-thinking and progressive property investment and development companies. Family-owned, its prime focus has been to create thriving communities within its prestigious 1,600 acres Calthorpe Estate in Edgbaston, in the heart of the UK. For over 300 years, Calthorpe Estates has been sustainably developing the Estate to create the best places to live and work. The Estate is home to flourishing commercial, medical, leisure and residential communities and incorporates one of the UK’s largest urban conservation areas, just a mile from Birmingham’s city centre. For more information visit www.calthorpe.co.uk
 
Media contacts
For more information or to arrange an interview please contact EMQ – Julia Price DD: +44 (0) 7737 864878, Email: julia@juliaprice.co.uk
 
 
 
 

The human brain works backwards to retrieve memories

When we remember a past event, the human brain reconstructs that experience in reverse order, according to a new study at the University of Birmingham.
 
Understanding more precisely how the brain retrieves information could help us better assess the reliability of eye witness accounts, for example of crime scenes, where people often are able to recall the overall ‘gist’ of an event, but recall specific visual details less reliably.
 
The study, published in Nature Communications, was carried out by researchers in the Centre for Human Brain Health, who reconstructed the memory retrieval process, using brain decoding techniques. These techniques make it possible to track when in time a unique memory is being reactivated in the brain.
 
They found that, when retrieving information about a visual object, the brain focuses first on the core meaning – recovering the ‘gist’ – and only afterwards recalls more specific details.
 
This is in sharp contrast to how the brain processes images when it first encounters them. When we initially see a complex object, it’s the visual details – patterns and colours – that we perceive first. Abstract, meaningful information that tells us the nature of the object we’re looking at, whether it’s a dog, a guitar, or a cup, for example, comes later.
 
“We know that our memories are not exact replicas of the things we originally experienced” says Juan Linde Domingo, lead author of the study. “Memory is a reconstructive process, biased by personal knowledge and world views – sometimes we even remember events that never actually happened. But exactly how memories are reconstructed in the brain, step by step, is currently not well understood.”
 
During the study, participants saw images of specific objects, and then learned to associate each image with a unique reminder word, for example the word ‘spin’ or ‘pull’. The participants were later presented with the reminder word and asked to reconstruct the associated image in as much detail as possible.
 
Brain activity was recorded throughout the task via 128 electrodes attached to the scalp, allowing the researchers to observe changes in brain patterns with millisecond precision. Finally the researchers trained a computer algorithm to decode what kind of image the participant was retrieving at different points in the task. Read the full article here
 
 
 

The human brain works backwards to retrieve memories

When we remember a past event, the human brain reconstructs that experience in reverse order, according to a new study at the University of Birmingham.
 
Understanding more precisely how the brain retrieves information could help us better assess the reliability of eye witness accounts, for example of crime scenes, where people often are able to recall the overall ‘gist’ of an event, but recall specific visual details less reliably.
 
The study, published in Nature Communications, was carried out by researchers in the Centre for Human Brain Health, who reconstructed the memory retrieval process, using brain decoding techniques. These techniques make it possible to track when in time a unique memory is being reactivated in the brain.
 They found that, when retrieving information about a visual object, the brain focuses first on the core meaning – recovering the ‘gist’ – and only afterwards recalls more specific details.
This is in sharp contrast to how the brain processes images when it first encounters them. When we initially see a complex object, it’s the visual details – patterns and colours – that we perceive first. Abstract, meaningful information that tells us the nature of the object we’re looking at, whether it’s a dog, a guitar, or a cup, for example, comes later.
“We know that our memories are not exact replicas of the things we originally experienced” says Juan Linde Domingo, lead author of the study. “Memory is a reconstructive process, biased by personal knowledge and world views – sometimes we even remember events that never actually happened. But exactly how memories are reconstructed in the brain, step by step, is currently not well understood.”
During the study, participants saw images of specific objects, and then learned to associate each image with a unique reminder word, for example the word ‘spin’ or ‘pull’. The participants were later presented with the reminder word and asked to reconstruct the associated image in as much detail as possible.
Brain activity was recorded throughout the task via 128 electrodes attached to the scalp, allowing the researchers to observe changes in brain patterns with millisecond precision. Finally the researchers trained a computer algorithm to decode what kind of image the participant was retrieving at different points in the task. Read the full article here
 
 
 

Leading scientist to investigate new blood test which could help spot bowel cancer sooner

Leading scientist awarded £500,000 to investigate new blood test which could help spot bowel cancer sooner
 
Professor Ian Tomlinson, director of the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences at the University of Birmingham, has teamed up with colleagues in the UK and Denmark to investigate whether early signs of bowel cancer can be spotted in people’s blood stream.
 
The NHS bowel screening test looks for traces of blood in people’s faeces which can be present when people have bowel cancer or pre-cancerous changes called polyps.
 
Currently, if blood is detected, the person may be asked to take the test again or meet with a specialist to discuss having a colonoscopy – which looks at the inside of the large bowel.
 
Prof Tomlinson said that, if successful, the research could lead to a blood test being offered to people who had already had a positive screening test to enable doctors to distinguish between those in need of an urgent colonoscopy and those who could have less urgent investigation. Read the full article here

Call for funding to develop stoma products inspired by body art, tattoos and lingerie

9 January 2019: Stephanie Monty, an entrepreneur from the University of Birmingham’s BizzInn business incubator, has been awarded £310k by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency. Inspired by seeing close family members suffering from the devastating effects of Crohn’s Disease, she set up her company, Ostique, to develop a new range of stylish stoma products that are beautiful as well as functional.

Every morning 200,000 people in the UK alone face a new day with a hole in their abdomen, a stoma, which diverts bowel waste. A stoma is often necessary as a result of cancer or bowel disease. Unable to use the toilet “normally” patients must wear a “stuck-on” fabric ostomy bag over the opening to collect their waste.

Living with a stoma can be completely debilitating. The physical changes post-surgery are compounded by the limitations of currently available appliances including the bag leaking, poor deodorisation and skin irritation. This impacts on patient’s physical and mental wellbeing, making daily activities such as work, socialising and intimacy, challenges fraught with anxiety. Up to a quarter of ostomates endure social isolation, anxiety, depression, even suicidal inclinations.

Stephanie’s company Ostique has developed a new range of ostomy products inspired by body art, tattoos and lingerie. Designed to give people with a stoma ‘freedom from the traditional ostomy bag’ which can be uncomfortable and stigmatizing. Ostique’s designs can be worn while swimming, on the beach, in the gym, or during intimate occasions; times when exposing a typical ostomy bag would cause embarrassment.

More akin to fashion items than medical appliances, the Ostique range will include embossed stoma covers that can be colour-matched to the user’s skin and a disposable waste-collection insert. Ostique’s patented designs use innovative adhesives to reduce skin inflammation.

Stephanie set up Ostique in 2017.

During her research, she interviewed over 200 patients and found that for many, wearing an ostomy bag, rather than the stoma itself caused the greatest distress. She believes passionately that good medical design should encompass the patient’s physical and psychological needs, and set about designing products that would do just that.

Stephanie commented: “The ostomy bag is a necessity, but it is also a constant reminder of disability. The depression, social anxiety and isolation experienced by many ostomates is very real: some people are afraid to leave the house, and going swimming or baring all on the beach is something that most could not dream of doing.”

Whilst at the BizzInn, she was introduced to the ERDF-funded Medical Devices Testing and Evaluation Centre (MD-TEC), and the NIHR Trauma Management MIC, both located at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, which are providing support for the testing and commercialization of the product. Cambridge Design Partnership will work with Stephanie to create detailed design specifications, trial the product and bring it to manufacture.

The charity Bowel & Cancer Research is leading on all aspects of patient involvement, including testing the prototypes with volunteers before they go into production.

The Innovate UK funding has provided a significant boost to Ostique, which aims to launch its first products in 2022. The company is now looking for match-funding.

 

Molecule discovery holds promise for gene therapies for psoriasis

20 December 2018: Scientists at the University of Birmingham have discovered a protein that could hold the key to novel gene therapies for skin problems including psoriasis – a common, chronic skin disease that affects over 100 million people worldwide.
 
The protein is a fragment of a larger molecule, called JARID2, which was previously believed to only be present in the developing embryo, where it coordinates the formation of tissues and organs.
 
However researchers led by Dr Aditi Kanhere from the School of Biosciences found a shortened form of JARID2 in adult skin cells, and they showed it is responsible for ensuring these skin cells ‘differentiate’ (become a more specialised cell type).
 
They dubbed the newly discovered protein N-JARID2.
 
The significance of this finding was immediately recognised by Dr Kanhere’s team, which studies how gene expression is regulated in normal and diseased conditions.
 
Dr Kanhere explains: “In some diseases, cells lose their ability to differentiate, and reproduce more rapidly. Being able to redirect cells back to their usual life cycle could alleviate the processes behind the disease.”
 
This is the case with psoriasis, which is caused by the rapid reproduction of skin cells. These excess cells are then pushed to the surface of the skin too quickly, resulting a build-up of cells that aren’t fully mature on the surface of the skin, and causing flaky, crusty red patches covered with silvery scales.
 
Dr Kanhere’s research, published today in EMBO Journal, shows that N-JARID2 is present in the skin layers, where it is where it is responsible for ensuring that the tissues maintain their usual state of differentiation which is necessary to properly form skin layers.
 
The discovery has caught the eye of the patenting team at University of Birmingham Enterprise, who filed a broad-based patent covering the use of N-JARID2 in therapies aimed towards conditions caused by hyper-proliferation of skin cells such as psoriasis.
 
The research team is now investigating how N-JARID2 is generated and its wider implication in disease, while the patenting team hopes that this discovery will ultimately lead to novel therapies for skin conditions.
 

100,000 whole genomes sequenced in the NHS

The 100,000 Genomes Project has sequenced 100,000 whole genomes, helping to improve diagnosis and treatment for patients with rare diseases and cancer.
 
The Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock has announced that the 100,000 Genomes Project has reached its goal of sequencing 100,000 whole genomes from NHS patients.
 
The 100,000 Genomes Project uses whole genome sequencing technology to improve diagnoses and treatments for patients with rare inherited diseases and cancer. It is led by Genomics England and NHS England.
 
Since the project was launched in 2012 it has delivered life-changing results for patients who have had their genomes sequenced, with 1 in 4 patients with a rare disease receiving a diagnosis for the first time.
 
Thirteen NHS Genomic Medicine Centres (GMCs) were created to support the project, along with a state-of-the-art sequencing centre and an automated analytics platform to return genome analyses to the NHS.
 
The UK is the first nation in the world to apply whole genome sequencing at scale in direct healthcare. Genomics can enable doctors to identify those at risk of disease, help prevent it and provide personalised treatments to give patients the best chance of recovery.
 
To build on the project’s success, in October the Secretary of State set out an ambition to sequence 5 million genomes in the UK over the next 5 years. The health secretary also announced the launch of the NHS Genomic Medicine Service. This will see all seriously ill children and adults with certain rare diseases or cancers offered whole genome sequencing as part of their care from 2019.
 
Read the full article here
 
 
 

Birmingham to lead ground-breaking research into patient experience of cell therapies

4 December 2018: Birmingham health researchers, with industry partners including health technology companies Dignio and Datatrial, have been awarded £1.1 million by UK Research & Innovation (UKRI)’s Innovate UK, to investigate patients’ experience of cell and gene therapies. The funding has been provided as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund’s Medicines Manufacturing programme.

Cell and gene therapies offer ground-breaking opportunities for the treatment of disease and injury. As therapies of this kind are so new, the impact upon patients receiving them has not yet been studied – until now.

The PROmics study will be led by Melanie Calvert, Professor of Outcomes Methodology and Director of the Centre for Patient Reported Outcomes Research (CPROR), and will use state-of-the-art technology to assess the effect of novel cell therapies on both patient symptoms and quality of life.

Due to begin in December, the project is a joint venture between the Midlands & Wales Advanced Therapy Treatment Centre (MW-ATTC), CPROR and Dignio, a Norwegian remote health monitoring company, which is responsible for developing the technology. The company carries out its UK operations from the University of Birmingham Enterprise business incubator, and specifically located its UK operations at the heart of the Birmingham Health Partners ecosystem, which accelerates patient access to innovative medicines and technologies. Datatrial, based in Newcastle, will facilitate integration of ePRO data with clinical outcome and manufacturing data. Other key partners include the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult and the two other centres in the Innovate UK-funded Advanced Therapy Treatment Centre network; iMATCH (Innovate Manchester Advanced Therapies Centre Hub) and Northern Alliance.

Professor Melanie Calvert explained: “The project will develop an electronic capture system to assess quality of life and symptoms, both at the point of receiving therapy and on a longer-term basis following discharge from hospital. Patients involved in the study will input into the design and build of this system, to ensure it is user-friendly and meets their needs.

“The data generated by patients will then be used to assess the effectiveness of treatments, support patient care and provide a crucial evidence base for regulators and policy makers. Ultimately, the PROmics study will help establish the safe and efficient delivery of new Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMP) to patients and also maintain the UK’s leading role globally for developing new therapies.”

The therapies being studied are known as Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs) and are based on engineered genes, tissues or cells. Medical researchers have made substantial advances in recent years, and have identified their huge potential for future medicine, but this new category of treatments will require stringent monitoring to ensure their safety and effectiveness in patients.

Dr Ian Campbell, Interim Executive Chair, Innovate UK for UKRI, said: “The projects announced today will bring real benefits to patients and boost the knowledge economy as part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy. This is vital for the UK as a global leader in the development of advanced therapies and medicine manufacturing.” Innovate UK has funded not only the PROmics study but the development of the MW-ATTC itself.

The MW-ATTC is jointly led by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Birmingham Biomedical Research Centre and NHS Wales. Professor Philip Newsome, director of the MW-ATTC, commented: “This exciting project will have a major impact on the safe and efficient delivery of cell therapies across the UK and is a good example of our close working relationships with innovative SMEs.”

The project will draw on expertise from many stakeholders in the ATTC network; London's network of Advanced Therapy Centres (ATCs); ATMP developers and producers such as Chiesi and Autolus; patients, clinicians and UK regulators and payers.

  

University of Birmingham deploys advanced AI computing power for research

Researchers at the University of Birmingham are set to benefit from the largest IBM® POWER9™ Artificial Intelligence (AI) computer cluster in the UK.
 
The University will integrate a total of 11 IBM POWER9 systems into its existing high-performance computing (HPC) infrastructure, called the Birmingham Environment for Academic Research (BEAR).
 
The system will deliver unprecedented performance for the ever-increasing AI workloads generated by the University’s researchers, delivering ground-breaking computational vision analysis and helping to solve life sciences challenges, such as improving cancer diagnosis.
 
“It’s very important to us as a research-led institution that we are at the forefront of data research which means we are always looking at ways to make AI quicker and more accessible for our researchers,” said Simon Thompson, Research Computing Infrastructure Architect at the University of Birmingham. “With the sheer amount of data, the common questions from researchers are how can we analyse it fast enough and how can we make the process even quicker? With our early deployment of the two IBM POWER9 servers we have seen what is possible. By scaling up, we can keep-pace with the escalating demand and offer the computational capacity and capability to attract leading researchers to the University.”
 
This significant enhancement to BEAR will mean an even more powerful and versatile computing environment to serve researchers. For example, fellows from The Alan Turing Institute looking at early diagnosis of and new therapies for heart disease and cancer, will use AI to run faster diagnostics in the future. In contrast, researchers in the physical sciences are similarly using machine learning and data science approaches to quantify the 4D (3D plus time) microstructures of advanced materials collected at national large synchrotron facilities such as the Diamond Light Source.
 
Read the full article here.
 
 

Abingdon Health launches App that transforms a Smartphone into a rapid analytical tool

13 November 2018: BioHub Birmingham® tenant Abingdon Health has launched an intuitive software application called AppDx. AppDx enables a Smartphone to ‘read’ lateral flow test lines, using the inbuilt camera, which translates the image into numerical data.
 
The App will allow rapid analytical testing from any location, meeting the increasing demand to receive real-time data from any location.
 
Abingdon Health is a rapid diagnostics company that specialises in lateral flow technologies, which detect the presence or absence of a target molecule without the need for specialised or costly equipment.
 
The company does early stage R&D at the BioHub Birmingham®, where it developed the intuitive software, which is suitable for both Apple and Android phones removing the need for separate development for different mobile technologies.
 
Chris Yates, CEO of Abingdon Health, commented: “We have developed AppDx to be entirely customisable by the end user, dependent on their assay requirements. The flexibility of using smartphone technology allows the transfer of real-time data and testing in any location.”
 
Abingdon Health is one of 10 tenants at the BioHub, which Is constructing an additional 5,000sq ft of self-contained laboratory and office suites to meet an increasing demand for biomedical incubator space.