Kidney Research UK awards £210k funding to seven academics from MedTech Competition with IN-PART
Kidney Research UK launched their Kidney MedTech Competition with IN-PART in the autumn of 2021 to identify promising research from UK-based academics to support through a funding and development programme. Initially, six prizes worth £30,000 were available, but due to the quality and relevance of the submissions from IN-PART’s academic network, Kidney Research UK increased this to seven prizes.
Working in collaboration with Kidney Research UK, IN-PART’s Discover team helped the medical research charity address their aim of accelerating the development and availability of transformational technologies to improve the lives of kidney disease patients.
Researchers at 129 UK universities were identified to be working on relevant solutions and were approached by the Discover team as part of the campaign. In total, 28 research proposals were submitted from a diverse range of sectors, including artificial intelligence, engineering, and wearable technology. Twelve of the teams behind these proposals were invited to pitch in a Dragons’ Den to secure funding and participation in a bespoke academy programme provided by Spin Up Science. Kidney Research UK awarded funding to seven projects, the details of which are outlined below.
Marc Stowell, Executive Director of Development at Kidney Research UK, and lead on the MedTech Competition said:
We were highly impressed by the number of innovations, ideas and technologies being proposed. The academy program in itself is an innovative approach that combines scientific potential with a commercial and business-orientated structure. Unlike traditional grant models, the course takes participants through an introduction to innovation and start-ups all the way to pitching their MedTech project to prospective investors. We cannot wait to see where these projects will lead and the difference they will make.
Project 1: Dr Timothy Bowen, Dr James E Redman, Prof. Donald J Fraser, Usman Khalid, Dr Daniel A Smith & John-Mark Seymour
A shortage of kidneys available for transplant has led to the use of kidneys with ischemic damage from reduced oxygen levels. These transplants are often rejected or cause delayed graft function, therefore failing to work immediately after transplant, endangering patients. The team at Cardiff University are developing a simple dipstick probe that detects the levels of microRNAs in urine samples. Levels of microRNAs can indicate the risk of delayed graft function in a way that is quicker and cheaper than a traditional biopsy or PCR. This project will have a significant positive impact on kidney transplant outcomes.
Project 2: Prof Alan Salama & Dr Louise Oni
It is important to monitor disease activity in relapsing or progressing conditions to ensure appropriate medical management, and timely intervention, particularly in kidney diseases and transplantation. Currently, blood and urine tests to detect kidney activity and inflammation need to be processed immediately after collection in specialist laboratories. The team at University College London are launching a study to test the performance of two sample kits that have the potential to remotely collect blood or urine samples and maintain sample stability during transit to a specialist laboratory. This will make disease management and treatment more accessible for patients.
Project 3: Prof. Rukshana Shroff, Dr Claudio Capelli, Claudia Bruno & Prof. Silvia Schievano
Central venous lines (CVLs) are the most commonly used tubes for access during haemodialysis. CVLs have a standard design (i.e. size, vessel geometry and blood flow parameters) which can cause stresses and areas of stagnation in patients, particularly children. Inventors at the University College London Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health will use a bioengineering approach to design patient-specific CVLs with tailored characteristics to maximise blood flow through CVLs, reducing complications and damage caused by these lines.
Project 4: Dr Neeraj Dhaun (Bean), Dr Tom MacGillivray & Emily Godden
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have discovered that patients with kidney disease experience thinning of two of the layers in the eye. This thinning correlates to the amount of kidney damage and can predict a decline in kidney function. Researchers are investigating ways to scan the back of the eye including Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), which is routinely used by many high street opticians. Researchers predict that this project may contribute towards developing a community-based kidney disease screening programme embedded within routine NHS eye tests offered by high street opticians.
Project 5: Prof. Maria Grazia De Angelis & Thomas Fabiani
Haemodialysis and other similar therapeutic systems use large volumes of water which is expensive, environmentally unsustainable and can make the therapy inaccessible. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have developed a mixed matrix membrane adsorber (MMMA), that aims to permanently capture toxins from dialysate water. This enables safe water regeneration from haemodialysis with a fast dynamic adsorption process with low energy consumption and no harm to the patient. It may also allow the system to be scaled down into a lightweight, wearable device significantly improving the availability of therapy and the patients’ quality of life.
Project 6: Dr Laura Denby, Dr Bryan Conway & Prof. Jeremy Hughes
Measuring serum creatinine and urinary protein levels is a common way to monitor kidney health and disease, however, it can give normal results despite significant illness. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have proposed using microbubbles and ultrasound technology to cause a temporary release of molecules from kidney cells which can be detected in blood or urine samples proving a non-invasive ‘liquid biopsy’.
Project 7: Dr Sergei Krivov, Dr Stefan Auer, Dr Andrew Lewington, Dr Sunil Daga, Dr Charlotte Harden & Collette Hartley
Acute kidney injury (AKI) normally occurs as a complication from another serious illness and can range from a minor to a complete loss of kidney function, therefore it is important that it can be diagnosed early. Researchers at the University of Leeds are developing artificial intelligence based on routine blood tests taken as part of standard NHS care to predict which patients will need early intervention by healthcare providers to prevent or reduce injury.
Read more success profiles and case studies of partnerships initiated through IN-PART’s matchmaking platforms for academia-industry collaboration.
Written by Frances Wilkinson. Edited by Alex Stockham.
Copyrights reserved unless otherwise agreed – IN-PART Publishing Ltd., 2022: ‘Kidney Research UK awards £210k in funding to seven academics after MedTech Competition with IN-PART’
About IN-PART’s Discover platform:
Discover is a bespoke scouting service used by corporate R&D teams to proactively engage over 2,400 universities and research institutions with their search requirements.
IN-PART’s Discover service is used by companies looking to find innovation, expertise and solutions from academia, to either increase or enhance their current services and products, or to find practical solutions to their business and research challenges. So far, Discover has been used by R&D teams in companies across a variety of disciplines, from Murata Manufacturing and leading chemical and gas companies, to global leaders in the life sciences including Bayer, UCB Pharma, Takeda, GSK Consumer Healthcare, Boehringer Ingelheim, Almirall S.A., and Chiesi Pharmaceuticals.
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