A project from wound care expert Professor Karen Ousey and a research partnership brokered by Grow MedTech Technology Innovation Manager Dr Luke Watson have both made the North of England shortlist in the Partnership with Academia Award category 

TWO research projects from the University of Huddersfield have been shortlisted in the prestigious 2020 Medilink North of England Healthcare Business Awards in recognition of their pioneering and collaborative research conducted with industry partners. 

The annual awards, in association with Insider Media Limited, shines the spotlight on the very best innovations and commercial successes achieved by healthcare organisations in the North of England. 

Five finalists, including two entries from the University of Huddersfield, have been shortlisted for the Partnership with Academia Award category.  The seven remaining categories will see a total of 31 finalists go head-to-head in the hope of securing a win on the night. 

“It is great to be recognised for our work with small business and regional SME’s in these awards and the benefit this has on the local economy.” 

Dr Barry Timmins, Head of Business Development

The eight category winners from the North of England will join an esteemed list of award-winners from across the UK to compete in the national grand-final on 01 April.  At the ceremony, the very best of the UK’s Life Sciences and Healthcare Technology sector will be crowned. 

LUTS refer to a group of medical symptoms that can significantly affect quality of life for men and women.  In the UK, millions of people are affected by LUTS, or urinary incontinence, and hundreds of millions are affected worldwide. 

Symptoms vary, but can include the experience of sudden, urgent needs to urinate and a significant increase in urine frequency during the day and during the night. 

One of the main obstacles to successful treatment is the availability of a straightforward test to measure how severely the patient is being affected. 

Currently, patients are asked to use jugs to measure the amount of urine they pass for three consecutive days and record the results in a paper-based diary.  This can feel undignified and leads to low compliance.  The lack of information provided to health professionals as a result affects the quality of treatment they’re able to provide. 

In this partnership, funded by Grow MedTech, Elaros, UScale and the University of Huddersfield are combining two separate technologies to address the problem. 

UScale, developed by Dr James Williamson at the University of Huddersfield and NHS urologist Nicolas Bryan, provides a more effective way of taking measurements, while a digital bladder diary devised by Elaros helps maintain an accurate, easily accessible record. 

Using UScale, the patient urinates into a disposable container connected to a digital scale.   The device records the weight, and the patient can simply empty the receptacle and throw it in the bin before leaving the bathroom. 

Meanwhile, the digital bladder diary developed by Elaros enables users to track the volume, urgency and frequency that they urinate over the three-day monitoring period, using a smartphone app.  The data captured is analysed by a powerful algorithm, linked to NICE Guidelines, before providing an indicative diagnosis back to the health professional.  The data and report can then be added directly into the patient record. 

These two technologies are now being brought together into one prototype device using a £20,000 Proof of Feasibility grant from Grow MedTech.  The combined device will enable UScale to automatically complete an online digital bladder diary when used and make this information accessible by the patients’ health professional. 

The Grow MedTech Technology Innovation Manager who brokered the new partnership, Dr Luke Watson, says: “In isolation each party’s device improves patient compliance, but when combined they create an all-in-one solution with the potential to improve treatments for millions.” 

Professor Karen Ousey, along with her University colleague Dr Nikolaos Georgopoulos, teamed up with the Cheshire-based lab Perfectus Biomed and the Sweden-based healthcare multi-national Essity to develop a new and reliable method for testing how much of the fluid that exudes from wounds can be absorbed by dressings. 

Professor Ousey explained that many superabsorbent (SAP) wound dressings are being released on to the market every year, but there has been no validated test specifically designed to assess how well they actually perform in clinical settings. 

“Healthcare professionals often make treatment choices based on marketing material and single case studies only,” said Professor Ousey. 

As a result of their research the University, Perfectus Biomed and Essity – a BSN Medical company – have developed an in-vitro test method that assesses the fluid handling properties of SAPs within an exuding wound. 

“Wound care companies who commission the test will better understand and market their products.  They will be able to test them using a validated method which mimics real life and so provide data to clinicians that increases confidence in clinical product performance,” said Professor Ousey.

She added that the test – available via Perfectus Biomed – would also aid the research and development of new products.  

The University’s Head of Business Development Dr Barry Timmins said: “It is great to be recognised for our work with small business and regional SME’s in these awards and the benefits this then has on the local economy.”