Events23 December 2015
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News & Views
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!
To celebrate the International Year of Light our very own Dr Jim Stone was asked by the BBC to recreate the experiment which led William Herschel to discover infrared radiation.
Jim took part in the set up and filming of the famous experiment for a three part BBC 4 series entitled “In Search of Colour” airing on November 18th.
Enjoy Jim's account of the exciting day filming at the Herschel Museum.
“The experiment would take place in the Herschel museum, or more specifically, in the kitchen. I’m not sure what I really expected from the crew as we met bleary eyed that morning (we started at 6am) to set up.
With hindsight, obviously a cameraman and sound recordist who make their livings out of optics and acoustics are going to be curious and quite capable when it comes to physics. Especially on a science documentary.
Herschel had made his infrared discovery when he noticed the coloured optical filters he was using to observe sunlight seemed to also pass different amounts of heat. He wondered if different colours had different temperatures so using a prism to disperse sunlight, he laid out several thermometers in the spectrum and a control one just outside the red edge.
It was the unexpected result of the control thermometer showing the largest change that lead Herschel to conclude that there was light beyond the red edge of the spectrum which we could not see.
Back in 2015, and under very creative direction, the kitchen was set up as it would have been when in the late eighteenth century. Windows were blocked out and beeswax candles were lit, then, on the table in the centre, the brilliant beam of white light emerging from the supercontinuum (we modernised the sunlight source somewhat) and striking a prism sending a bright spectrum across the table to a series of neatly laid out thermometers looked fantastic.
With everything now ready the sound recordist muttered the words everyone was longing to hear, “fancy a bacon sandwich?”
After breakfast our presenter arrived. I rather naively thought someone would have scripted everything, but no, “I’m going to need a few minutes to work out what to say” says UCL physicist Helen Czersky, and then straight into filming.
I have no idea how long we spent there, I think I left my perception of time fast asleep in bed that morning. Different shots, different angles, different lines all looking and sounding great. As we were getting the last few gratuitously arty shots we were given the nod to pack up in time for the museum opening. Soon all the equipment was cleared and eighteenth century kitchenware again occupied the space.
'Emerging from our supercontinuum/candle light illuminated Georgian time warp into the midday sun felt dreamlike, but I also felt very satisfied.'
If the series is half as good as it seemed it would be to me that day then it will be well worth watching."
Brilliant work Jim, we are all very proud of you!