Events31 May 2016
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News & Views
PROTEUS team members have traveled to University College London today to launch the EPSRC UK Image-Guided Therapies (IGT) Network.
Image-guided therapy (IGT) combines simulation and modelling, imaging and sensing, computing and robotics as well as visualisation to improve the localisation and targeting of pathological tissue with surgical instruments and focused energy delivery.
The aim of the newly awarded EPSRC UK Image-Guided Therapies Network+ is to fertilise and enhance collaboration across the UK IGT community and promote relationships with industry, supporting the ability to clinically translate IGT to realise patient benefit.
The network will allow researchers at member institutions to collaborate and nurture interdisciplinary research ideas and proposals. PROTEUS will benefit immensely from being part of these institutional collaborations.
'I am delighted to join colleagues from across the UK at the launch of the Image-Guided Therapy Network.'
Dr Anne Moore, PROTEUS Project Manager
Through engagement with industrial stakeholders, the network will provide a mechanism for transitioning EPSRC-funded research into clinical translation through the development of commercial products.
Healthcare innovations need world-leading research and skilled people to get off the ground. Cross discipline collaborations, including those funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), are critical to success.
Dr Annya Symth, PROTEUS' Clinical Study Manager talks us through PROTEUS' first clinical study and explains the challenges that lie ahead.
What are your responsibilities in PROTEUS?
I am responsible for managing the design, set-up and running of the clinical studies that test both the optical Smartprobes and the evolving technology. This includes designing and developing the clinical protocols alongside the lead clinicians, obtaining the necessary approvals and working closely with the Sponsor and clinical staff to ensure the study runs smoothly. I’ve also renewed my research passport to help our clinical team in the hospital to carry out the research, if it’s needed. It’s a great chance to meet the patients involved and to make sure the studies we design in our office actually work well in a clinical environment.
The process of bringing PROTEUS into commercial use is incredibly complex - can you walk us through the protocol?
The ultimate aim of the PROTEUS project is to develop technology that is accessible to clinicians worldwide, but this is a few years off. Right now we are running small, local studies to test the individual components of the technology, but we’ll eventually conduct a large regulated clinical trial to obtain valuable data about the functionality of the final imaging platform prior to potential commercialisation.
What stage of this process are PROTEUS at now?
The PROTEUS project is about halfway through its journey-we are now at the stage of our first clinical study that’s due to start in March 2016. The end goal of the project, in June 2018, is to test the fully functioning Smartprobe delivery, imaging and sensing system for the first time in humans.
Why is this clinical study important?
So far we have tested and evaluated our imaging system in animal lungs and now we are at the stage of moving the technology into humans. We want to develop a novel approach to address the unmet needs of identifying and measuring pulmonary fibroproliferative pathway.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced bringing PROTEUS to its first clinical study?
The biggest challenge to date, and I honestly don’t think it’s a challenge in the true sense of the word, is to ensure that those involved in working with us and approving the Versicolour device and Smartprobes for clinical use are a fully integrated part of this journey, and appreciate the low risk nature of the technology. We’ve already demonstrated that the Smartprobe and device are safe for clinical use, but the novel approach that we’re using and the state-of-the-art technology will always challenge existing perceptions which are based around more conventional research tools that are currently in use.
What challenges lie ahead?
A potential challenge that I can see in the future is the integration of the sensors to our technology. In saying that, the team have come a long way so far and are well capable of jumping any possible technical hurdles.
Interview conducted by Kate Boyd Crotty and Jessica Davis, Science Communication Mater Students
We invite you to read PROTEUS' Mid Term Review Brochure which summarizes all of our hard work over the last 2.5 years.
PROTEUS' funding body, The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council has confirmed that the mid-term review panel were very supportive of the progress that PROTEUS has made to date.
PROTEUS are delighted, a great way to end a successful year!