Blood flow tech project for key-hole surgery hailed as exemplary
Published on 29 August 2023
Researchers from the University of Dundee’s Schools of Medicine and Science and Engineering have been working to develop a new device capable of capturing images of blood flow during keyhole surgery.
The project, run in partnership with Moor Instruments Ltd, has been heralded as an exemplar of academia-industry collaboration.
The University received £130,000 funding to work with Moor, a manufacturer of monitoring and imaging systems, who contributed an additional £64,000 to enable the collaboration to develop technology[RG1] to assess blood flow in the microvasculature of organs during surgery. It may also be used to assess perfusion for clinical and research applications to help understand disease in future.
Innovate UK’s Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) connect businesses and not for profit organisations with access to the country’s world class academic expertise, helping them innovate for growth and embed knowledge for lasting, positive impact.
The North of Scotland KTP Centre selected the Dundee-Moor project as a case study demonstrating the benefits these types of projects can bring both to businesses and academics, who are given a valuable opportunity to apply their research to real world business challenges.
They have produced a series of videos featuring this and other KTPs as part of a campaign seeking to promote engagement with the business community and ultimately help more companies to innovate and grow.
Dr Krstajic said, “This has been a fantastic project to work on. Moor Instruments provided us with the essential background and pathway to pursue our objectives as engineers.
“As a company, Moor is able to highlight exactly what the medical industry requires and that knowledge empowers us to develop solutions that can ultimately benefit patients. Our Biomedical Engineering students also benefit from exposure and work experience in research and development within a top UK clinical and pre-clinical device design company.”
Ensuring that blood flow can be accurately measured during surgery is critical to reducing the risk of complications. Following on from advances in endoscopic surgery there is a real need to be able to image blood perfusion of organs continuously.
Currently, fluorescent dyes are injected into patients to periodically enable perfusion imaging during surgery. The Dundee-Moor project sees researchers develop technology that will aid surgery without the need to inject dyes and may also be used to assess perfusion of organs to help understand disease. Performing this using laser speckle imaging would be continuous and logistically simpler.
Much of the work Dr Krstajic and his colleagues carried out focused on optomechanical design and optoelectronic miniaturisation. The pre-clinical validation led by Dr Murdoch showed that blood flow could be easily visualised in real time, with areas of tissue with high and low blood flow clearly distinguishable from each other.
This could provide an important tool during surgery to guide removal of poorly perfused tissue and ascertain which regions of tissue are healthier.
The device they developed will be available initially for use in pre-clinical research and it is anticipated that full development for use in clinical settings will follow.
Emma Craig, of the North of Scotland KTP Centre, said, “This is the first University of Dundee KTP to have completed a full project lifecycle since they joined the North of Scotland KTP Centre in early 2019 and the whole team have been a pleasure to work with.
“The collaboration with Moor Instruments is a great example of the flexibility of the KTP scheme and how partnerships can adapt their approach in response to changing circumstances, ensuring positive outcomes. We are delighted that the partnership has developed their new device and wish them every success with the ongoing testing and commercialisation.”
Rodney Gush, Senior Applications Scientist, Moor Instruments, said, “KTP has been a very efficient and highly productive platform for collaboration and innovation, with the KTP Associate’s skills and extra pair of hands on site, backed-up with a wide range of university and KTP expertise and support.
“It has been a real pleasure to work with Innovate UK, the North of Scotland KTP Centre and Dr Nik Krstajic and Dr Colin Murdoch at the University of Dundee, and many of their colleagues for additional ideas and support.”
The University is an established centre of medical technology (MedTech) expertise, and this project builds on that reputation. Dundee is home to Tayside Innovation MedTech Ecosystem (TIME), a translational research, training and clinical centre. Funded as part of the Tay Cities Deal, TIME engages NHS, academia and commercial partners to develop innovative medical technologies, create new companies and provide high-quality new jobs.
Much of the activity is centred on the transformation of Wilson House near Ninewells Hospital into a cutting edge innovative and collaborative environment where students, staff, clinicians, designers, engineers and data scientists can develop disruptive technologies for the healthcare industry.
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