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60INNOVATION UKINNOVATION From robots to telecare, 21st century healthcare is using increasingly high- tech solutions. Launched in July 2008, the NIHR's Invention for Innovation ( i4i) programme is speeding up the rate at which bright ideas for new high-tech products are turned into methods of prevention, diagnosis and treatment. The NIHR works with representatives from academia, the Association of British Healthcare Industries, small to medium- sized enterprises ( SMEs) and other stakeholders to develop this area of its work. Robots for chemotherapy David Leonard, Executive Lead Pharmacist, Aseptics and Clinical Trials, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, says: " The support of the NIHR Patient Safety and Service Quality ( PSSQ) Research Centre allowed us to embark on an 18- month project to test a brand new robot for making up individual doses of chemotherapy. We were able to evaluate the system using research expertise based in the centre to support staff. The PSSQ Research Centre also helped us to increase the profile of the project and gave us the opportunity to carry out more tests than we would otherwise have been able to. " The robot allows us to make up individual patients' chemotherapy more efficiently, which cuts down wait-ing time for treatment - currently a great source of anxiety. It also reduces the risks of needle stick and repetitive strain injuries." As well as a programme encouraging Future Product Development, the NIHR has set up two pilot Healthcare Technology Cooperatives ( HTCs) in partnership with the Technology Strategy Board ( TSB), Engineering and Physi-cal Sciences Research Council ( EPSRC) and the Medical Research Council ( MRC). This brings together NHS staff, academics, the medical technology industry and others to concentrate on solving unmet clinical needs in these areas. IDENTIFYING PREDICTIVE BIOMARKERS " A key factor in the successful introduction of new drugs for treating cancer will be the identification of robust predictive biomarkers. These will indicate which patients are most likely to derive benefit from novel targeted agents. The NIHR funding for our Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre is already con-tributing significantly in this context. We have now set up a system of analysing tumour tissue from all the patients ( over 500 per year) referred to us for experimental phase 1 trials. Using Sequenom Mass Array technology, we are obtaining important data on genetic alterations in tumour cells, which are begin-ning to guide our choice of experimental therapy. Examples which are under very active study include the PARP ( poly ( ADP- ribose) polymerase) protein inhibitors, a powerful new type of anti- cancer drug. These have attracted considerable attention because of high levels of activity and low levels of toxicity in defined cancer populations." Professor Stan Kaye is an NIHR Senior Investigator, Professor of Medical Oncology at Cancer Research UK; Head, Section of Medicine, Institute of Cancer Research; and Head of the Drug Development Unit at the Royal Marsden Hospital. Healthcare national institute for health research

UKINNOVATION UK61 The NIHR's Challenge Fund for Innovation ( CFI) is designed to stimulate a flow of novel ideas that can be turned into NHS products. The CFI also invests in other government departments, research councils and the pri-vate sector. The Institute's Challenge Fund partners include: » » Assisted Living Innovation Platform of the Technology Strategy Board ( TSB); » » Knowledge Transfer Partnerships programme ( TSB); » » Medical Futures competition; » » MATCH- PLUS ( Multi- disciplinary Assessment of Technology Centre for Healthcare) research collaboration funded by NIHR and the EPSRC; » » Rapid Detection and Identification of Infectious Diseases Innovation Platform ( TSB); and » » the Science and Technology Facilities Council ( STFC). Through the NIHR, the Department of Health is piloting a new Small Business Research Initiative with the TSB. A first call for pilot proposals in the area of healthcare infections was issued in October 2008. Working with the pharmaceutical, biomedical and medi-cal devices industries is a key part of the NIHR's work. NIHR is the bridge between industry and NHS- facilitated research. Many of the treatments and solutions devel-oped by our researchers can only achieve mass produc-tion and roll- out across the NHS with help from industry. NEW HOPE FOR GLAUCOMA SUFFERS " Monitoring internal eye pressure - intraocular pres-sure or IOP - is an essential part of glaucoma manage-ment. But as this pressure constantly varies through-out the day, measuring it, as now happens, just two to three times a year is insufficient for effective disease management. As a result, 15% of those diagnosed lose their eyesight within 15 years even though they are under care. " To help address this problem, with the help of £ 100,000 from the NIHR, we have developed a soft contact lens device with built- in pressure sensors, which can monitor IOP over at least a 24- hour period. In the long term we hope the lens will be capable of both managing and treating glaucoma through the delivery of IOP- lowering medication, which can be stored within the contact lens and released if pressure rises above a certain threshold. " The money from NIHR's i4i programme has enabled us to optimise the design and to check its feasibility. The work also includes experimental validation and a limited clinical trial." Structural engineer Dr Ahmed Elsheikh is Senior Lec-turer in Structural Engineering and leader of the Ocu-lar Biomechanics Group at the University of Dundee. His research could revolutionise treatment for glau-coma, the most common cause of irreversible blind-ness, which affects 500,000 people in this country. The NIHR's Clinical Research Network matches patients and public volunteers to clinical studies in the NIHR portfolio. Studies are either fully funded by the NIHR or co- funded with partners such as the MRC, medical chari-ties like the Wellcome Trust, and life sciences industries. Most importantly, the NIHR's work is making a differ-ence to patients in a very real, tangible way. Their needs, their experiences, their testimony, is what drives the NIHR. Their individual stories are at the same time, heart breaking and heart warming, inspirational, poignant, joy-ous and every emotion inbetween. They are at the heart of NIHR's work. Healthcare national institute for health research