11 Oct 2018   |   Network News

University of Birmingham opens new healthcare technologies institute


A new Institute where research will look into improving healing and make a difference to patients with debilitating conditions is opening today (10 October 2018) at the University of Birmingham.

The Healthcare Technologies Institute (HTI) will strive to advance new technologies and treatments that encourage better tissue healing, quicker detection of diseases, and better outcomes for patients.

The Institute will take research from the laboratory through to clinical trials, where researchers are:

  • developing new technologies that will minimise the impact of scarring on the skin and the eyes
  • discovering rapid, real-time chemical and biological detection methods for diseases to improve long-term outcomes 
  • creating better, longer-lasting prosthetics that will allow patients to return to full function earlier
  • finding new ways to combat antibiotic resistance to fight infections globally
  • developing new technologies to help repair bone, teeth and cartilage
  • discovering new technologies for future transplantation and bone defect replacement

The HTI will bring together leading experts from a variety of disciplines across the University of Birmingham, including chemical engineering, biomedical science, computer science, applied mathematics, chemistry and physics. Researchers across campus will work collaboratively to speed up the translation of new discoveries into health applications.

The Institute will also host the Centre for Custom Medical Devices in collaboration with Renishaw, one of the world's leading engineering and scientific technology companies with expertise in precision measurement and healthcare. The centre will bring together multidisciplinary expertise to explore the full potential of additive manufacturing, otherwise known as 3D printing, in the healthcare sector, driving innovation at all stages of the medical device supply chain, from implant simulation through to manufacturing prosthetics that overcome healthcare challenges such as infection.

Professor Liam Grover, Director of the HTI, University of Birmingham, said: ‘There is an increasing demand to deliver new technologies that allow us to more rapidly diagnose and better treat patients. Advances in medicine mean we are living longer than ever before, alongside our chances of survival following devastating, life-changing events. However, these successes lead to major challenges - we've extended life expectation, but there is no commensurate improvement in quality of life. This demand has led to a rapid increase in the amount of research needed to be undertaken to develop new healthcare technologies.

‘Through our research at the HTI, we will aid healing and make a difference to patients with debilitating conditions to ensure people are able to live longer, healthier and happier lives.’

Dr Sophie Cox, from the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Custom Medical Devices, said: ‘3D metal printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a healthcare revolution. It removes many of the limitations seen in more traditional manufacturing methods, and opens up the possibilities for innovations that are both structurally and medicinally customised to the patient. For example, we are changing implant design so that we may incorporate antimicrobials either on the surface or within the device itself. This will enable local therapeutic delivery which is known to be more effective at treating implant infections. In the long term we are also looking at how we can change these devices to prevent infections.’

Research at the HTI is conducted in collaboration with University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB), Medical Devices Testing and Evaluation Centre (MD-TEC) (funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)) and in partnership with Aston University and other supporting partners.

This release was first published 10 October 2018 by the University of Birmingham.

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