Multi-modal Manufacturing of Medical Devices (4MD)

Lead Research Organisation: Heriot-Watt University
Department Name: Sch of Engineering and Physical Science

Abstract

Medical device technologies are vital for the detection and treatment of a great number of diseases and healthcare problems. Increasingly, micro-devices are being developed for minimally-invasive measurement and therapy, for example in cancer detection and drug delivery. To enable broad-based takeup of such devices it is vital to provide low-cost and reliable manufacturing solutions.

The group at Heriot-Watt has significant experience in developing manufacturing solutions for a wide range of applications, with a particular focus in recent years on medical devices e.g. for cancer detection and treatment. Particular challenges include: miniaturisation to enable minimally invasive application; the low-cost integration of optical, chemical and electronic technologies; and hermetic sealing to prevent unwanted ingress of fluids, whilst allowing appropriate interaction e.g. measurement of cell stiffness, measurement of pH, laser ablation/treatment of cancerous tissue. Our manufacturing expertise (spanning laser techniques such as ablation, sintering, bonding and inscription; also additive and subtractive microfabrication processes based on mechanical, chemical, evaporative and microwave techniques), coupled with our highly supportive and growing base of clinical and industrial partners means that we are ideally placed to provide appropriate manufacturing solutions, and to enable rigorous testing and a route to commercialisation and ultimate application.

The Platform will allow us to retain key staff, and to deploy them in ways that are not possible with standard proposals. In particular, we will be able to accelerate our ability to grasp immediate opportunities based on our existing collaborations, both within the group and with external partners, by carrying out critical proof-of-concept studies.

The PDRAs employed will benefit greatly from the enhanced career development under the Platform. We will broaden their experience through research exchanges; engage them in proposals to win new funding; support them in applications for personal fellowships; provide them with dedicated funds for their own short proof-of-concept projects (10% of budget allocated to PDRA-led 'seedcorn' projects); provide a mentoring programme using industrial and academic members of our Advisory Board; and involve them in management of the Platform.

We will organise facilitated workshops to bring together a broader group of academics and medics and to identify new collaborative activity and application areas. We will also employ targeted dissemination activity to inform current and potential industrial and clinical partners of the full range of our medical device manufacturing research activity.

Planned Impact

The overall motivation for, and ultimate impact of, this Platform is to provide improved procedures and outcomes for healthcare patients, by developing and applying manufacturing techniques to enable minimally-invasive solutions for detection and treatment.

Additional impacts can be divided into 4 different categories: (i) economic benefits for medical device companies that will deliver the commercial products resulting from this research; (ii) manufacturing technology advances that can be exploited in other areas of manufacturing; (iii) the output of skilled personnel; and (iv) public awareness and understanding of engineering and science.

In the course of our research and importantly in follow-on projects we will work closely with a range of industrial partners including Renishaw plc, Optoscribe, SPI Lasers, Merlin Circuit Technology, Edinburgh Molecular Imaging and PA Consulting. Their development of the manufacturing systems (e.g. M-Solv, Oxford Lasers) and medical device commercial products (e.g. Renishaw) will result in direct economic benefit for these companies, with broader benefits for their supply chain partners.

The investigators are all involved in a range of other manufacturing applications, e.g. in aerospace, optical systems, and security; and are well-linked into the manufacturing community in the UK, e.g. via the Association of Industrial Laser Users (AILU) and the International Microelectronics Assembly and Packaging Society (IMAPS). Hence they are perfectly placed to identify other applications that would benefit from the technological approaches developed for medical devices.

Absolutely central to the philosophy of the Platform Grant scheme is the output of highly trained personnel skilled in the use of modern manufacturing techniques, and who thrive on working in a multidisciplinary environment. An integral part of our programme is to engage in research exchanges of personnel, in both directions, with existing and proposed new collaborators. Involvement in these interactions, and in the wider group under the Platform, will enhance the skills and experience of the PDRAs. They will be ideally suited to contribute to the growth or creation of high-technology companies, enhancing innovative capacity and consequently increasing business revenues.

We will also continue to enhance public awareness of engineering and science. We will involve the PDRAs in the dissemination of the aims and results of this work to the wider public, at a suitable level, extending our group's on-going contributions to Open Days, careers events, and external events such as Science and the Parliament and the Edinburgh Science Festival.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Contribution in cash from from Tommy's (Charity) towards Andrew Brown and Claudia Ferreira
Amount £56,000 (GBP)
Organisation Tommy's 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2018 
 
Description EPSRC Adventurous Manufacturing
Amount £250,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/T005076/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2019 
End 06/2021
 
Description Dr. Andrew Brown who is a part-time (2 years) medical student working on a Master of Medicine in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh and HWU. He is therefore seconded with us 
Organisation University of Edinburgh
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Dr. Andrew Brown who is a part-time (2 years) medical student working on a Master of Medicine in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh and HWU. He is therefore seconded with us
Collaborator Contribution Dr. Andrew Brown who is a part-time (2 years) medical student working on a Master of Medicine in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh and HWU. He is therefore seconded with us
Impact n/a as yet
Start Year 2018
 
Description 4MD Inaugural Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Medical device technologies are vital for the detection and treatment of a great number of diseases and healthcare problems. Increasingly, micro-devices are being developed for minimally-invasive measurement and therapy, for example in cancer detection and drug delivery. To enable broad-based take-up of such devices it is vital to provide low-cost and highly repeatable manufacturing solutions.

This workshops will be where academics and clinicians will be given the opportunity to share ideas for both future collaborations and new projects that can be undertaken during the life of the 4MD platform and beyond.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Public lecture hosted by the Royal Scottish Society of Arts 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Public lecture hosted by the Royal Scottish Society for the Arts, on 26 March 2018
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.rssa.org.uk/20180326.shtml