School researcher invited to attend prestigious interdisciplinary conference

A School of Medicine researcher has been invited to attend a prestigious conference in Toulouse later this year following a successful grant award in 2015.

Dr Luigi Manfredi will attend the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) – the largest interdisciplinary science meeting in Europe – to present recent developments of a novel robotic active flexible colonoscope (RAC) which has been developed within the framework of two European Research Council (ERC) projects. The first of these projects is the multidisciplinary Colonic Disease Investigation by Robot-Hydro Colonoscopy (CODIR) and the subsequent proof of concept (PoC) grant Compliant Actuation Robotic Platform for Flexible Endoscopy (CARPE).

The CODIR project has developed four robotic platforms for hydro-colonoscopy whereby a fluid, polyethylene glycol, is used instead of traditional air/CO2 insufflation, which has been known to cause issues with pneumatosis – an abnormal presence or air or gas within cavities in the body.

The CARPE PoC was given an award by the ERC and chosen by the CODIR Principal Investigator (PI) Professor Sir Alfred Cuschieri for its potential to provide a pain-free complete colonoscopy with biopsy which could be used for early diagnosis of colorectal cancer as well as population screening.

Now, this project has developed the next generation of robotic active flexible colonoscopes with dedicated proximal HD colour cameras providing video streaming and channels for biopsy instruments. The colonoscopes rely on miniature twin concentric-ring actuators (MCAs) which create a hollow, flexible articulated column, allowing the colonoscopes to reproduce a snake-like locomotion. This system, which exerts an external forward-pushing force from its tail through an automatic control system, allows the controlling clinician to determine the exact route of the robotic colonoscope by controlling the path of the advancing proximal end, minimising energy consumption and providing enhances mechanical bandwidth.

Speaking ahead of the conference, which takes place from 9-14 July, Dr Manfredi said, “The aim of our research is to drastically reduce pain and discomfort during screening leading to increase in participation of the target population and reduction in the CRC mortality rate. The advanced control of CAPRE will facilitate execution of the procedure, which, with suitable training may be performed by a technician under the supervision of an endoscopist, thereby reducing the cost to NHS and other care system. This will lead to significant reduction in the waiting time for patients awaiting screening.”