Research Fund Awards 2015

Neonatal

Dr David Odd

Award: £4,134 : Incidence of perinatal pathology in post-term deliveries and long term consequences.
While there is a lot of work looking at the long term outcomes of infants born too early, little has been done for those born after their due date, despite the obvious role for medical intervention. Some of this work suggests that babies born after their due date are more likely to suffer brain damage around birth but other work shows no effect and more data is badly needed. David will use his Springboard award to investigate the risk of being born in a poor condition at, or after term, and the possible reasons for this. He will then analyse whether infants born after term do worse on measures of cognition, education and social functioning in adulthood. This work will help identify if the adverse effects of post-term delivery are possible consequence of perinatal asphyxia, and therefore will help advise healthcare providers and pregnant women to help reduce significant morbidity on the infant, the family and the NHS.

Women and Children

Dr Yealin Chung

Award: £19,872 : The ReProFiLe Study. Investigating the Endometrial Leukocyte Profile in women with Recurrent Reproductive Failure (Pilot & Feasibility Study)
Only 25% of IVF (In-Vitro Fertilisation) cycles result in live births. One of the major barriers to improving this success rate comes from our limited understanding of how the womb lining responds to a fertilised egg. Some women may have an immune system that responds abnormally and therefore impacts on their ability to conceive and/or carry a pregnancy. On average, every cycle of IVF costs over £5,000. So, even 1% improvement in the success rate will lead to cost-savings of £3.1 million a year. Furthermore, we could help reduce the significant risk of chronic psychological problems such as anxiety and depression that are often seen in couples following unsuccessful IVF attempts. Yealin’s study aims to analyse whether immune cell levels and their activity in the womb lining can be used to identify women at risk of Recurrent Reproductive Failure (RRF). Early identification of women with RRF would allow targeted treatment to maximise the likelihood of a successful IVF cycle.

Orthopaedics

Professor Ashley Blom

Award: £16,991 Teicoplanin-phosphonate-functionalised titanium; a dual-action biomaterial finish for orthopaedic applications  
The NHS performs over 170,000 joint replacements each year. With the prediction of an increasing elderly population it has been estimated that by 2030 the numbers of total joint replacements could rise by 170% for knees and 670% for hips. At present approximately 10% of all total joint replacements will fail in the life time of the patient because of loosening. A further 1% will fail because of infection. In this project Professor Ashley Blom is aiming to develop “dual-action” prostheses (implants) that address both these complications. He plans to monitor the growth and maturation of bone forming cells upon the modified titanium and to examine how MRSA bacteria respond to the new material. This research could help us to achieve superior joint replacements to be used throughout the NHS, resulting in huge savings of public money and much less potential for ongoing complications t for joint replacement patients.

Cancer

Mr Antonio Orlando

Award: £2,931 : Low cost Skin Analyser for recovery and analysis of 3D and 2D data from patient moles to check for signs of cancer 
Skin cancer is unfortunately an increasingly common disease in the UK - from 1999 to 2008 UK melanoma diagnoses increased from 57,000 to 90,000 per year. Being able to accurately measure the size and shape of a mole over time is important for early detection of potentially cancerous skin growths. This project addresses the need for improving the diagnostic process by developing a unique and accessible, camera-based device to assist GPs in measuring and analysing moles that patients are concerned about. The device, which is non-invasive and risk-free, will initially be used with patients in the NBT clinic of the Skin Cancer Lead Clinician, Mr Antonio Orlando, to assess how useful it is and to explore the acceptability of the technology to patients and healthcare providers.

Respiratory

Dr Anthony Edey

Award: £18,469  : Evaluation of MRI for differentiation of malignant mesothelioma from benign pleural disease 
Mesothelioma is a non-curable aggressive cancer of the lining of the lung that develops as a result of previous asbestos exposure. Most people live less than a year after the diagnosis of the disease. People who have been exposed to asbestos can also develop a benign (non-cancerous) form of thickening of the lung lining. At early stages both benign and malignant thickening can look very similar on CT scans. It is very difficult to tell the difference just on imaging, therefore, most people will go on to have invasive biopsies that might not bring conclusive results. However, Anthony will use his Springboard award to investigate if there is a way MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans could help us in telling the difference between benign and cancerous thickening of the lung lining, to help avoid the invasive tests. Several small studies have shown that MRI may be suitable for diagnosing mesothelioma, but the results are not definitive which is why Anthony’s study is so important