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Brain and spine injury technology research centre set to launch

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An innovative brain and spinal injury health technology research centre, the Cambridge HealthTech Research Centre, is set to open in April after securing £3 million in funding.

Opening at Cambridge University Hospitals’ Addenbrooke’s, the centre will bring together NHS partners, business, and patients from across the UK.

The centre was awarded the funding from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) due to the hospital’s Neurosciences Department record of working with patients, carers and partners and creating a national network of expertise.

The Centre will be focusing on the development of technologies that improve care while patients are in hospital, will examine innovations that enable patients to live more independently at home, and deliver a dedicated HealthTech Fellowship training programme for health professionals and partners.

Its commitment builds on dedicated work by the NIHR Brain Injury MedTech Co-operative (MIC), and it will be collaborating with nearby hospitals including neighbouring Royal Papworth

Heading the centre will be academic neurosurgeons at Addenbrooke’s, Professor Peter Hutchinson and Mr Alexis Joannides.

Professor Hutchinson said: “The centre will work with industry, including Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) and local innovation clusters across the UK, to develop new medical technologies and diagnostics. 

“This increases the chance of adoption by the NHS and others.”

Joannides added: “Our new centre will enable us to work effectively with inventors, academics, and clinicians within the UK and beyond to identify, evaluate, and implement meaningful solutions to improve the lives of people affected by brain injury.”

Innovation with SMEs

The Centre will be working with Small to Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) including medical device company NeuronGuard, which focuses on improvements to Targeted Temperature Management (TTM) – a treatment used to lower a patient’s body temperature to preserve brain function following trauma, stroke or cardiac arrest.

NeuronGuard is developing a system known as CB240_Aurora, a device that is smaller and more portable than current devices, and which also enables TTM treatment in non-hospital settings such as an ambulance.

Founder of Neuron Guard, Dr Enrico Giuliani, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the new Cambridge HealthTech Research Centre on technology that has the potential to save even more lives.”

The centre will also be collaborating on a “jungle safari” app with Animorph Co-op. The app enables children to look around their ward or hospital site to keep them active.

Another app collaboration the Centre is embarking on is with digital start-up Little Journey. The app offers families information and a virtual tour around the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to make the environment feel less intimidating.

Patient input

Hutchinson and Joannides have emphasised the importance of listening to patients, and patient James Piercy from Norwich, who survived a brain injury, has been appointed as special “public contributors” at Addenbrooke’s.

Piercy commented: “The thoughts and understanding of people with lived experience of these conditions is vital to make sure that new developments meet the real needs of people and that research focuses on the questions that matter to patients and their carers.”

NIHR assistant director of innovations, Dr Ian Newington, added: “It is no surprise that Cambridge University Hospitals has been successfully designated as a HealthTech Research Centre. 

“I look forward to continuing to support them in this new stage of the journey to help identify and develop innovative new inventions.”

HIWIN

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