Ground-breaking disease detection tech gets £6.5m EU funding boost

A potentially life-saving project which is using nanotechnology in the early detection of disease is one of a number of exciting research projects to receive a £6.5mgrant from the European Union.

The James Watt Nanotechnology Centre at the University of Glasgow is part of the North West Centre for Advanced Manufacturing – a supercluster of academic institutions and businesses.

The project has received funding through the EU’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

Researchers at the University of Glasgow are working with Causeway Sensors in Belfast – a company which makes plasmonic nanostructures – on a project which aims to integrate these nanostructures using injection moulding into medical devices to detect the presence of pathogens and bacteria.

The nanotechnology which goes into products that are helping to detect diseases – for example blood and drug tests – will help in the diagnosis of conditions including sepsis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and could also potentially identify cancer markers at an earlier stage.

Professor Nikolaj Gadegaard of the University of Glasgow said: “If these products get to market, they have the potential to detect diseases and conditions much faster and that could help save lives.

“This project is bringing academic institutions and businesses together at an earlier stage in the manufacturing process. Companies get the chance to get involved in groundbreaking research projects, and academic institutions help create jobs for the future.

“The funding is helping ideas to evolve and develop, and to create products that will be used every day to help hundreds of thousands of people.”

Commenting on the funding, Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), which manages the EU’s INTERREG VA Programme, said: “This investment is testament to the EU’s commitment to enhancing research and innovation in all regions.

“The project encourages universities and businesses to work together for wider economic benefit. It is a fantastic example of cross-border collaboration with industry partners identifying research that has the potential to change lives.”

Dr Bob Pollard, CEO of Causeway Sensors, added: “These products will help us to make diagnoses earlier and provide more effective treatment.

“The team at the University of Glasgow is helping with the fabrication and commercialisation of the products – taking the raw materials made by us and integrating them within the medical devices.

“We’re really enjoying being part of this project and we’re looking forward to seeing the products make their way to market.”

The North West Centre for Advanced Manufacturing project is being led by Catalyst driving, Northern Ireland’s entrepreneurial eco-system. The not for profit organisation fosters innovative thinking to help knowledge-based industries to learn from each other to produce world-leading products and services.

Co-ordinating the research for NW CAM, Dr Alistair McIllhagger at Ulster University is overseeing activities to be carried out by 13 PhD students and 13 post-doctoral researchers across the four research partners - Ulster University; Sligo Institute of Technology; Letterkenny Institute of Technology; and the University of Glasgow.

There are four main research themes across the project – additive manufacture; advanced polymers; nanomanufacturing; and sustainable manufacturing.

Match-funding for the project has been provided by the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation in Ireland.

First published: 30 April 2019

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