Life Science - Spring 2010

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Lifescience Spring/Summer 2010 Issue1

ed King






Making It Lifescience manufacturing shows the way ahead

Prize Innovations: Medilink UK National Awards Not Forgotten: Alzheimer’s drug development Clean Air Act: High-quality HCAI prevention



Spring/Summer 2010 Issue 1


Spring/Summer 2010 Issue1

Lifescience restores the balance The financial crisis has brought the role of manufacturing to the front of the national stage for the first time in a generation. Increasingly, it is being argued that according manufacture a proper place in our economy is part of a rebalancing that’s essential to our future prosperity.

Not Forgotten Page 15 Making It Pages 4-9

The life sciences sector has already been recognised as a major contributor to our GDP and a leader of economic growth. In our lead feature we look at some of our most innovative life science SMEs to discover how for them, in-house manufacture is a choice driven by the need to innovate, and key to staying competitive in a highly demanding environment.

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One of the distinctive characteristics of successful life science organisations is their ability to collaborate. In our next issue, we will be taking a closer look at how collaborative projects can tackle one of the toughest health challenges ahead: shifting the delivery of treatment out of the acute sector and into primary care, the home and the community.

Coralie Palmer Editor

Medilink UK Awards Pages 12-14

Features 4 Making It Why life science innovators choose in-house manufacture

Clean Air Act Page 17

Products 21 Clean Air Act

Tackling airborne HCAIs

In Brief

12 Prize Innovations Winners


at the Medilink UK National Health Technology Awards

Projects 15 Not Forgotten

Developing a disease-modifying Alzheimer’s treatment

Well Connected Well informed Clean Living Clear Scan Getting Through Comfort Zone

Biff 26

Great moments in medicine


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What these companies describe is the antithesis of traditional ‘metal-bashing’. This is still the image that manufacturing conjures up in the popular imagination, rooted in the heavy industry of the last century. But contemporary life science manufacture is emphatically a twenty-first century beast, powered by brains rather than brawn. In this sector, cleverness is the ultimate product – which is why the UK is in a position to take a leading international role.



Spring/Summer 2010 Issue 1

Making It For many of the UK’s most innovative life science companies, in-house manufacturing is key to their success. Coralie Palmer explores how it works in this burgeoning sector, and the implications for our future economy.


It even includes erstwhile ‘masters of the universe’ such as Karsten Schroeder, chairman of hedge fund Amplitude Capital. Having already relocated the firm from London to Switzerland, Schroeder declared to the Sunday Times: ‘Britain is too dependent on the financial sector. France and Germany at least still make things: you don’t. You have a big problem – you should be investing in education and infrastructure and changing the basis of the economy.’ Mr Schroeder overstates the case only in that we do in fact still ‘make things’: the question is not only how to make more of them, but just what should we be making?


In April last year, PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) published its report on ‘The Future of UK Manufacturing’. Defiantly subtitled ‘reports of its death are greatly exaggerated’, this pointed out that the UK is still the world’s sixth-largest manufacturer, although the emerging and developing economies of the globe are irrevocably changing the profile of the industrial world. It concluded that in terms of our future role, ‘being a leading

player in all sectors is not realistic – but being a leading player in certain chosen segments is’. At that point the Treasury had already confirmed life science as one of those segments – in fact, as being foremost among the three most important drivers of UK economic growth (followed by renewable technologies and the digital economy.) The government committed tangible, prioritised support to the sector with the establishment of the Office of Life Sciences (OLS) last January. Jostling under its capacious umbrella are medical technologies, diagnostics, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. They are all proving grounds for the kind of ‘brain industries’ that will fund our future prosperity: high-value, high-tech, multidisciplinary, clever and innovative.

had made weapons for Cromwell’s army. In 1701 the Salt brothers developed these inherited skills into a flourishing business as cutlers and surgical instrument makers. Ten generations later, their descendants still own and run Salts Healthcare at its Birmingham HQ. Salts now divides its business between customised orthotics and the highly specialised needs of stoma patients. A stoma is an opening on the body surface, made through an operation called ostomy – the most common being colostomy, where the bowel is brought through the abdominal wall. A stoma demands specialised care and the products to support it.

Although it was out-sourcing that grabbed the headlines throughout the last decade, in-house manufacture is integral to many of the sector’s most cutting-edge companies. They have continued to flourish even while ‘making things’ was a chronically underrated activity. This confirms their innate robustness, but these particular denizens of the lifescience landscape are more than statistics in our GDP. Intelligence suggests they are the shape of the future, but what does that mean in practical terms? Below, four such companies describe the reality of what lies behind a tough but highly productive choice.

Salts has been at the forefront of this complex business since the Second World War, when the company’s Chairman, Ted Salt, worked with Birmingham General Hospital (BGH) to bring American colostomy innovations to UK patients. Stoma care products and services now make up two-thirds of the company’s business, with an ostomy firm acquired in the nineties now a dedicated unit at Horsham. For Philip Salt – Ted’s son and Chief Executive – their success in this challenging field is grounded in a patient-centred ethos that takes the long view.

From Swords to Stoma Care

‘Much of my father’s work at BGH was unpaid,’ said Philip. ‘He was utterly fascinated by tackling this problem, and it was all about working

Well before the Industrial Revolution, Birmingham was already famous for metalworking – its skilled artisans


For a generation now, rhetoric about the inevitable death of the UK industrial base has dominated debate on our economic prospects. We were, the pundits insisted, now ‘post-industrial’: the future lay in services – particularly financial services. But with their feet to the fire of the second-worst financial crisis in world history, the opinionformers have been recanting with impressive speed. The chorus of voices belatedly recognising the long-term importance of UK manufacturing has now swelled to a clamour.



Spring/Summer 2010 Issue 1

intricate network of regional resources that Salts depend on. ‘You’ve got the people, the culture and the infrastructure,’ said Philip, ‘and our people are key. It’s why we didn’t relocate the Horsham base – because we wanted to keep the people who came with it.’ Likewise, the contraction of Birmingham’s car industry has released just the kind of skilled personnel the company seeks. ‘We’ve picked up some of our key people this way,’ said Philip. ‘Whether you’re making delicate medical equipment or cars, it’s still manufacturing and these are the skills we need.’

The Fabric of Innovation


closely with stoma patients and their nurses’. As well as manufacturing, Salts runs a UK-wide service through its regional service centres, supplying a full range of stoma care products beyond their own. ‘These are dispensing appliance centres that operate to the same rules as pharmacists,’ Philip explained. ‘The information we get from them constantly feeds into what we develop and how we develop it.’


The close interaction between Salts and its patients is mirrored in the company’s internal operations. ‘Design, development and manufacture all feed into each other hugely,’ said Philip. ‘So we mix disciplines, with multifunctional teams to solve problems and so forth.’ This constant feedback loop spirals throughout the route from concept to product. It is crucial to maintaining quality and innovation – the factors that keep Salts ahead of the game. Cut-price outsourcing is therefore not a realistic option. ‘Obviously,’ Philip pointed out, ‘since we’re supplying the NHS, cost and price are important. But you can engineer costs out and that’s a much more effective strategy.’ That approach demands a skilled, committed workforce, part of an

Paisley is to textiles what Birmingham is to car manufacture: for more than a century, it hosted the landmark UK companies that led the global textile market.

or woven from polyester or made from ePTFE, an extruded polymer. Both have to be stitched into place by the surgeon. The fledgling company made its reputation with a sealing technology that reduced blood leakage and procedure time, enormously simplifying the surgeon’s job. The gelatine sealant can also be used with antibiotics to reduce infection risk. Vascutek has been sold twice already in its thirty-year life, now being owned by Japanese company Terumo. But each buyer has chosen to leave the manufacturing operation in situ: what, I asked Paul Burns (Vice-President QA/ RA/QC Heart Valves), is behind that decision? ‘There’s not many companies making vascular grafts in the world,’ he pointed out, ‘and one of the reasons it happens here is because of our skills base.’ Polyester prostheses are finished by sewing: ‘We’re strategically placed slap-bang in the middle of textile

Vascutek’s latest BioValsalva graft is used to replace the aorta and contains a biological heart valve.

It was here in the late seventies that Coats Viyella, with a weather eye to the future, began to explore the potential of polyester as a bio-compatible material. From that venture came today’s Vascutek, now employing some 530 people in the rather rare business of making vascular grafts, or artificial arteries.

country with an inheritance of those skills,’ Paul continued. ‘If your mother was a good sewer, the chances are that so will you be. It seems almost genetic!’

Surgeons use prosthetic arteries to replace those damaged by thrombosis (a blockage) or aneurysm (where artery walls become thin and vulnerable). Vascutek’s prostheses are either knitted

The same cultural familiarity supports a network of long-term regional relationships, generating a readiness for collaboration that is typical of ‘clever’ industries. ‘Again we’re well placed,’ said

Paul, ‘because we work closely with the bio-engineering unit at Strathclyde University. That’s where I came from – our MD too. We offer 12-week industrial placements to Strathclyde students, and more often than not they stay on. So we’re in an environment that can give us that mix of technical skills and scientific skills.’ Equally fundamental to manufacture being on-site is its interaction with the other processes that make products actually happen. Vascutek’s Design Review Team is responsible for bringing the idea for a new product to fruition in the marketplace: its crossdisciplinary grouping brings together people from R&D, quality, regulatory, manufacturing and marketing. ‘It’s a process of constant feedback between these different functions,’ Paul explained, ‘and it simply wouldn’t be possible to do this on separate sites. You have to have that combined, collective input to turn a concept into a viable product.’

actually build the thing. You’re solving complex problems and that runs through the whole package.’

Advanced monitoring technology

The result is a unique knowledge base that develops in and with the company, supported by a notably flat organisation structure. ‘We deliberately keep it that way,’ said Paul, ‘because it makes communications so much easier. We don’t have a problem with information filters at various management levels because there are so few levels.’ This allows the company’s intelligence – in every sense of the word – to work to its full capacity: ‘We’re selling cleverness at high volumes,’ said Paul. ‘The trick is to find your niche and be good at it.’

The Brains of the Operation

TMS in action

The bucolic pastures of West Wales could not be further removed from a traditional industrial base. Yet here at the small town of Whitland, Magstim produces advanced technologies to monitor and stimulate the human brain. Its nerve monitors enable surgeons to identify and protect motor nerves during brain surgery, helping to prevent neural damage. Its brain stimulation products are needed for leading-edge research and diagnostics: they enable practitioners to modulate the activity of brain neurons, using magnetic impulses in Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

Magstim is one of only a handful of companies worldwide producing this brain stimulation technology, which is driven by the needs of users often working at the newest boundaries of neurology, neuroscience, psychiatry and rehabilitation. That innovation ‘pull’ calls for a constant interplay between designers, developers and makers: ‘This is a process that cannot work in isolation,’ said Magtim’s Managing Director John Starzewski. ‘You’ve got the technical demands, the regulatory requirements, and then you have to

Given the distinctive skills this approach demands, one might expect Magstim’s rural locality to be a disadvantage. Instead, it has become the source of prized continuity in the company’s staff and expertise: ‘We’ve pretty much grown our own skills base from the ground up,’ said John. After 20 years at Whitland, 80% of the workforce comes from a ten-mile radius. Locally and regionally, Magstim has worked to build strong relationships. ‘We work closely with our schools and universities,’ John continued. ‘Right now we have two projects at Cardiff for example, one with the Wolfson Centre for Magnetics and the other with CUBRIC [Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre]’. The result is that Magstim attracts the right people – and keeps them. Their academic links are part of Magstim’s involvement with leading researchers and institutions worldwide. Increasingly, this work calls for their products to be used in combination with other technologies, such as fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) and EEG (electroencephalography). ‘We need to make our equipment work seamlessly with these tools, so intraoperability is a priority,’ said John. Stroke rehabilitation is a case in point, where Magstim works with another project group on some of the newest and most important work on how brain stimulation could help ‘retrain’ damaged brains – which could also have potential applications for dementia. The social and financial price of these conditions (strokes cost £2.8 billion a year in the UK) is such that the search for effective treatment is at a premium. Magstim’s own technologies cross the borders between biology, physics and engineering: its research projects are likely to involve the broadest imaginable range of disciplines, within and beyond academia. The stroke research group includes not only leading academic specialists on brain function, but also expert practical knowledge from people like physiotherapists. ‘Physios know the reality of what patients are dealing with,’ John pointed out, ‘and small but measurable changes in the


The newest device from Salts: Dermacol, a unique ‘collar’ that fits as a leakproof barrier around the stoma.



Spring/Summer 2010 Issue 1

Large Molecules, World Stage In an intensely competitive global market, drug development is moving in radically new directions. From its base at Billingham in the Tees Valley, Avecia Biologics1 has rapidly grown into one of the world’s leading companies for contract development and manufacture of ‘biologic’ medicines. The active ingredients of these drugs are very different from conventional, chemically

synthesised ‘small molecule’ drugs: biologics use large molecules, generally proteins and generally made through some form of genetic engineering. As Avecia’s Commercial Director Steve Taylor explained, it is the particular character of these drugs that represents a manufacturing opportunity for the UK. Firstly, the manufacture of biologics is highly complex – so much so, that the manufacturing process itself forms part of the overall specification for a particular drug. ‘With a conventional drug like paracetamol,’ said Steve, ‘someone could write down a spec for that and as long as you made that spec, it wouldn’t matter where you made it – you could outsource it almost anywhere you like. With biologics it doesn’t work like that. When the regulators look at a biologic drug they will actually

include the manufacturing process and everything associated with it – including the site – as an integral part of the product registration. It is extremely tightly controlled.’ Companies developing new biologics are therefore looking for good visibility and control of manufacturing process, the design of which is fundamental to the drug’s development and its ultimate cost. ‘If they’re outsourcing this work,’ said Steve, ‘it’s likely to be with someone they’re already engaged with and probably collaborate with, so they’re comfortable with them. On the basis that most innovator companies are based in Europe or the US, they generally prefer to work with a European or USbased development and manufacturing operation.’ This is an activity where control and accuracy are paramount, rather than lowest-cost manufacture. ‘So

in these products,’ he continued, ‘we aren’t really competing against the lowcost economies.’ These factors help to make Avecia Biologics one of a limited number of companies doing this work. Some of the large pharmaceutical players may choose do it themselves, but biotechnology companies – typically ranging from small-start-ups to medium-size enterprises – will generally outsource to operations like Avecia’s. The driving force in that choice is the substantially high cost of investment demanded by biologics manufacturing and the associated process sciences. ‘Not only that,’ said Steve, ‘I’d argue that it’s also the investment in expert scientists and technologists – the skilled experienced people able to create these complex processes and help ensure products can be economically viable. That is almost a bigger issue than the manufacturing facilities themselves.’ This is a multidisciplinary medium: science and engineering have to combine to accommodate the specialised demands of biologics manufacture, which makes up a much higher percentage of the treatment’s final price than for conventional medicines. Indeed their cost makes biologics some of the most expensive drugs available, but they are also aimed at treating some of our most historically intransigent diseases. ‘With this next generation of medicines,’ said Steve, ‘the ability to find ways to develop very productive processes, and then operate them in a very tightly regulated way, means that this is not a low-cost economy issue. So economies like ours, with a very strong science and technology base – we’re well placed to take a significant role in this.’


Making It New The fact that out-sourcing has become a proven tool for every developed economy does not negate the role of UK in-house manufacturing: quite the reverse. All the companies described here are based on successful in-house manufacture that is driven by the need to innovate. Each has found a particular niche, where manufacturing is an integral part of designing and developing Biologics manufacturing facility at Avecia’s Billingham site.


both evolving and radically new products for a demanding market. The skills base to support these enterprises is a key factor in their success. Their experience illustrates both the transferability of traditional industrial skills, and the importance of fostering new ones: all of them deployed in ways that break down conventional barriers between functions and disciplines. These companies also share a longterm perspective, both on their own development and that of the UK. As John Starzewski observed, ‘Short-term in this business is about five years! I think the UK has very significant future as a manufacturer in this sector – so long as we continue to develop our people and our technologies.’ This demands a long-term government strategy for durable support and incentives that will develop the resources we need – human, financial and technological – to maximise UK life science capabilities. The establishment of the OLS is a major step forward in this respect. It is already developing initiatives that have been eagerly welcomed by the sector, such as the reduced rate of corporation tax for income from patents – the ‘patent box’– due to be applied from April 2013. Nevertheless, broad-based recognition of life science manufacturing’s importance to the UK is far from accomplished (last year’s PwC report referred to earlier did not include life sciences in its selected ‘segments’ of future potential). ‘We have to get people to recognise that in our field, manufacturing isn’t a hardhat activity,’ said Steve Taylor. ‘It’s a very complex exercise where science and engineering come together for this vital purpose.’ The purpose being transformation – of ideas into products that create both wealth and public benefit. In supporting UK life science manufacture, the OLS can also raise awareness at every level of its true value. We must hope that our new government will choose to build on the work already begun.

Richard Salt Chief Executive Salts Healthcare Richard Street, Aston Birmingham B7 4AA Tel: +44 (0) 121 333 2000 Fax: +44 (0) 121 333 2010 Web:

Paul Burns Vice President QA/RA/QC Heart Valves Vascutek Ltd Newmains Avenue, Inchinnan Renfrewshire PA4 9RR Tel: +44 (0)141 812 5555 Fax: +44 (0)141 812 7170 Email: Web:

John Starzewski Managing Director The Magstim Company Ltd Spring Gardens Whitland Carmarthenshire SA34 0HR Tel: 01994 240798 Fax: 01994 240061 Email: Web:

Steve Taylor Commercial Director Avecia Biologics Ltd PO Box 2 Belasis Avenue, Billingham Cleveland TS23 1YN Tel: +44 (0)1642 363511 Fax: +44 (0)1642 364463 Email: Web:


rate of recovery may give them clues to better rehabilitation.’ This capacity to mix disciplines will, in his view, be an increasingly important feature of lifescience development across the board. ‘That’s how this sector is moving, worldwide,’ he opined. ‘If you can be really good at multi-disciplinary science, then you can win.’

9 Avecia Biologics was acquired by USA-based pharmaceutical company Merck & Co shortly after this interview.


Spring/Summer 2010 Issue 1

UKTI Overseas Missions and Events Upcoming supported missions and events: IBIZ (International Business Innovation Zone) 2011 is UKTI’s new flagship Life Sciences event. Taking place on 9th and 10th March 2011, up to 300 UK Life Science companies are expected to attend with the potential to meet over 100 international partners and buyers and explore partnering opportunities. IBIZ will be held as part of the Healthcare Innovation EXPO at the ExCeL Centre in London, featuring more exhibitors, visitors and seminars than last year. Visitors to be IBIZ will be able to see and take part in:

International partnering: UK Life Science

companies will have the opportunity to meet 100 partners from 30 markets including the USA, China, Germany, UAE and Australia.

Exhibitor showcase: The UK’s most innovative


• Outward missions to Syria, Jordan and Lebanon commencing on 4 December 2010

• An outward mission to Saudi Arabia which will include

seminars/presentations at hospitals in Riyadh and Jeddah.

There will also be outward healthcare missions including:

• A mission to Medical Fair Asia and Singapore 15-17 September

• A mission to India (6 – 10 December), to New Deli, Mumbai and Chennai

• A mission to Japan (week beginning 28 February 2011) as well

Seminar programme: featuring high-level

In addition, we will be supporting the UK delegations at Medica and Arab Health by sponsoring overseas buyers from various markets and Life Sciences Commercial Officers from a number of Posts.

IBIZ Invest: a new investment forum hosted by

UKTI. UK Life Sciences companies are invited to apply and if selected will pitch to investors comprising business angels, venture capitalists and corporate venturers. Visitor tickets allow unrestricted access to the Innovation EXPO. For further information visit

The UK Life Sciences Online Marketing Toolkit– a free resource to help you market your business internationally and build global partnerships

The Middle East is an increasingly important and growing market for the medical technology sector and UKTI will be undertaking a number of overseas missions to markets in the region:

companies will be able to exhibit and showcase their products and services to potential buyers from the UK and overseas. briefings on market opportunities, aid-funded business, connected health, regenerative medicine and personalised medicine.

The UK Life Sciences Online Marketing Toolkit

as missions to, Egypt and Cuba (dates to be confirmed).

More details on events UKTI will run this year can be found on the UK Life Science Toolkit: For enquires on the Healthcare programme of activities please contact Bob Kipps. E: T: 020 7215 4805 is an online

interactive site which gives Life Science companies access to a range of free resources to help you market your business internationally. It also enables companies to keep up-to-date with developments in the Life Sciences community, through event pages, news articles and other key sources of information.

Join, benefit and participate Registration is free and takes just a few moments. is open for anyone to join. Simply register and access the full facilities of the site. Users are encouraged to contribute by submitting articles and events, and also by providing feedback and comment. The website also provides referral tools to allow users to bring articles and events to the attention of their colleagues.

includes national and regional trade bodies. The website houses the key marketing messages that have been developed to promote the UK Life Science sectors internationally. It provides an evidence base which underpins these messages as well as case studies which demonstrate UK excellence.

Depth of resources In the last few months the Toolkit has seen significant growth in resources available to users. The articles within the Intelligence area are fully categorised and cover topics such as:

• Research & Development • Inward Investment • Partnerships & Alliances • Finance & Investment • New Product Development


Image gallery is supported and guided by some of the UK’s leading Life Science industry professionals, ranging from the heads of large corporations to small enterprises, and has a royalty free image gallery for use by Life Science companies. These high resolution images are free to download by registered users.

UK wide participation is supported by a wide group of stakeholders, including the UK’s national and regional trade associations and regional cluster organisations. These partners provide news flow and access to information on forthcoming events both in the UK and overseas. Each event entry is categorised geographically and provides a short synopsis and contact details.

Building global business partnerships An online directory which will showcase UK Life Sciences’ companies will be added to the site, in the next few months. This fully searchable directory will categorise companies by their principal Life Sciences business activities and allow overseas companies to identify potential business partners.


Spring/Summer 2010 Issue 1

Sponsored by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI)

The ‘Export Achievement’ Award was won by R5 Pharmaceuticals from Nottingham.

Pioneering lifescience technologies were given their due recognition this March at the 2010 National Medilink UK Awards. Held at the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall in York, the Awards celebrate the very best in the sector’s science, business and technology achievements. Over 100 guests attended the ceremony, which included a presentation from Sir Christopher O’Donnell, a member of the Ministerial Medical Technology Strategy Group and former Chief Executive of Smith & Nephew. The event was sponsored by global leader Sandvik, which has just invested in a European Centre of Excellence in the UK. Nominees had already been

through a tough winnowing process: every year, a panel of specialists in each of the 12 Medilink regions selects its award-winning technologies. The winners then go through as entrants

Innovation Award Winners Sponsored by the HealthTech & Medicines KTN


Winning the Innovation Award was Yorkshire-based Brandon Medical Ltd.


The company is renowned for expertise in medical lighting, video, AV and power & control systems for critical care areas. Its Quasar surgical light offers unique advantages for surgeons, using HD-LEDs that create larger beams and bigger illuminated fields than any other surgical lights. Quasar allows precise definition of the lighting field, which is then controlled by a zoom lens system. Its HD-LED lights have a unique red balance feature which allows surgeons to adjust the levels of visible red light, so they can identify the smallest colour differences to give the most accurate tissue representation. Quasar is the latest innovation from a company that was first worldwide to launch HD-LED surgical lights.

As a result of accessing new markets, R5 have increased their export sales by a staggering 1000%. The company develops and manufactures new medicines and materials for Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials. R5 aim to provide all dosage forms – the company’s comprehensive service includes tablets, capsules, powders, creams and liquids – in contrast to competitors who often select just one or two. This latest prize recognises the firm’s ability to secure new clients in the US, Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand as well as mainland Europe. With sales of nearly £3 million, the company plans to expand further on the back of overseas orders that already account for 75% of turnover.

for the national competition, competing for prizes in five categories: Innovation, Growth in Sector, Start-Up, Export Achievement and Partnership with the NHS.

Growth in Sector Award Winners Sponsored by the Department of Business Innovations and Skills (BIS)

Winner of the ‘Growth in Sector’ Award was IntraHealth. Based in Peterlee, the company provide primary care services for a range of longterm conditions, including heart disease, chronic lung disease and anticoagulant monitoring, to 22 surgeries across the UK. In the past two years IntraHealth has seen a substantial increase in turnover and tripled the number of its staff to 300, securing significant NHS contracts and engaging with local partnerships through the NHS, local authorities and the third sector. The shift from hospital to primary care is now part of long-term government policy in the UK as elsewhere, having proven to benefit patients and reduce costs. Intrahealth is well-positioned for continued growth in this still-developing market and is looking to increase its provision across the UK.


Prize Innovations

Export Achievement Award Winners



Spring/Summer 2010 Issue 1

Not Forgotten

Sponsored by the NHS National Innovation Centre

The ‘Partnership with the NHS Award’ was awarded to Invacare Ltd.

As the populations of developed societies grow steadily older, so Alzheimer’s disease becomes an ever-growing problem. At present approximately 27 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s: that number is expected to double over the next two decades.

The Cardiff-based company collaborated on a pioneering approach to supplying oxygen for patients at home. Invacare developed the HomeFill oxygen system in partnership with Dolby Medical and NHS Oxygen Management. The product allows patients to refill mobile cylinders from their own oxygen store, while continuing to receive oxygen at the same time. This innovative process dramatically improves the users’ independence: they no longer have to rely on oxygen deliveries using heavy cylinders, with the inevitable restrictions on mobility. The Homefill system is the latest addition to Invacare’s range of products and services for assisted living, all designed to support greater independence and mobility.

Start-Up Award Sponsored by Medilink UK


The winner of the Start-Up Award was InterVene Ltd from Sheffield. This specialist product developer has created a female Luer lock hypodermic syringe, designed specifically for oral and enteral medication delivery. It was designed as a result of a patient alert issued by the National Patient Safety Agency in March 2007, and the company will be developing a complementary range of accessories. Intervene is now turning over £1.5 million plus per year: a massive increase on their first year of trading in 2008, when then turnover was at £13,000. The next goal for the company is to successfully commercialise its innovative non-Luer spinal/epidural connection system: it aims to do this ahead of the National Patient Safety Agency alert, which comes into force in April 2011.

selective small-molecule compounds to combat the toxicity of amyloidlike proteins. Last year the company filed two further patents to protect its latest generation of these compounds, designed to inhibit the inappropriate inflammation of the brain that can be triggered by amyloid. These new drug candidates demonstrate significant efficacy within models of memory and learning, with the potential to treat the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

The lengthy, damaging and distressing effects of this disease have a social and economic impact that makes its effective treatment one of the most significant goals in healthcare. Pharmaceutical and biotech companies are working on a number of different strategies to treat or reverse Alzheimer’s. One of the most promising is that of drug development company Senexis, founded specifically to tackle the diagnosis and treatment of age-related disease. Based at the renowned Babraham Research Campus, the company has the ingredients of a classic Cambridge biotech star: funding – it has raised more than £6 million in its seven-year history, including additional grant funding; cutting-edge technology; and a supremely experienced management team. Its CEO Dr Mark Treherne has spent some 25 years involved in the discovery of new treatments for diseases of the nervous system, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. After working with Pfizer (whose drug Aricept is the current most commonly used symptomatic treatment) he founded Cambridge Drug Discovery: having sold the company to BioFocus for £28 million, he joined Senexis in 2002.

Assisting you in Assisted Living technology.

Alvolution is the leading independent organisation for the discovery, collaboration and promotion of technological advances in the Assisted Living sector, adding quality of life at home for those with disabilities or long-term healthcare needs. If you’re a manufacturer and need demonstration facilities for your technological innovation, connections with your market, introductions, data or any other impartial assistance, contact Joanne Perry on 0121 452 5634 or email her at Alvolution, 4 Greenfield Crescent, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 3BE Alvolution is a division of

and is supported by

The Senexis drug development strategy targets the behaviour of particular proteins in the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers. When Alois Alzheimer classified the disease post-mortem over a hundred years ago, he saw the plaques in the brain now known to be characteristic. A number of seemingly unrelated degenerative diseases have since all been linked to a ‘clumping’ of amyloid-like proteins in the brain that impairs brain cell function. A key

‘We now have a number of compounds which could be drugs,’ said Mark. ‘We’re currently in the process of selecting candidates for clinical development, which we plan to progress into preclinical development for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease this year.’ In two years’ time, the selected compound would then go into trials involving patients. There is now a great deal of interest from multinational pharmaceutical companies in the potential of these disease-modifying medicines. ‘The pharmaceutical sector is looking for new truly differentiated products,’ said Mark, ‘and we are in a pole position to explore and exploit the potential of this knowledge.’

question is the effect of ageing on the turnover of these proteins in diseases such as Alzheimer’s. ‘This is a novel science that has only emerged fairly recently,’ said Mark. ‘It’s the role of small companies like Senexis to pick up on these trends well ahead of the established pharmaceutical industry.’ Senexis is focused on Alzheimer’s treatments that will actually modify the disease, rather than only treating symptoms – currently the only option for patients. To develop effective medicines, Senexis is building a pipeline of drug candidates in the form of potent,

Dr Mark Traherne Chief Executive Officer Senexis Limited Babraham Research Campus Babraham Cambridge CB22 3AT Tel.: 01223 496160 Fax: 01223 496161 Email: Web:


Partnership with the NHS Award



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Spring/Summer 2010 Issue 1

Clean Air Act UPG manufactures components and assemblies for a wide range of medical devices and end markets, including minimally invasive surgical devices, respiratory and catheter devices, diagnostic instruments and devices, patient monitoring systems and micro fluidics / diagnostics. UPG’s core competencies include precision injection moulding and complex assembly, new product introduction and global supply chain management. With our global headquarters in Oakbrook, Illinois and ten manufacturing facilities in the USA, Mexico, Europe and China, we are one of the world’s largest contract manufacturers. In December 2009, UPG expanded its UK white room facility to 5,300 sq ft as part of the Company’s increased presence in the medical device sector. The 60,000 sq ft facility at Mountain Ash, South Wales has been operational for 13 years and has class leading systems and quality accreditations (ISO13485, TS16949, and ISO14001). For further information please contact Neil Parsons Tel: 01443 471223 Email: Web: Mobile: 07815 883248

Take a closer look at life sciences in the West Midlands • Clinicians and industry are engaged in combating the threat of infectious diseases through innovation • Specialist companies are collaborating on the design, trial and adoption of new assisted living products


• Electronics and engineering companies are expanding their services into medical simulation


• Debate is being stimulated among GPs about the future of mobile apps in practice

Tel: +44 (0)121 452 5630


Health Care-Acquired Infections (HCAIs) have become one of the most stubborn challenges faced by health professionals. NHS regimens for hand and surface cleaning are helping to reduce touch-transmitted infections, but bacteria and viruses can float in an indoor environment for long periods before settling on people, surfaces or in dust. Even small actions – such as moving curtains or opening a door – generate airflows that then redistribute these microbes into the air. A new device specifically tackling airborne micro-organisms is now generating clinical interest across the UK. In 2004 the NHS set up the Rapid Review Panel (RRP) to provide independent advice on technologies that could help reduce infection rates. Its recommendations are rated from 1 to 7, with the highest (level 1) given when evidence-backed benefits show that a product should be readily available to the NHS. The RRP is now considering Medixair, a device using UltraViolet light to destroy airborne microbes. Designed and developed by Pathogen Solutions, a West Midlands company, Medixair has already reached RRP level 2, and will shortly be re-submitted for consideration at level 1. The use of UV light as a germicide has been familiar since the nineteenth century. The A, B and C bands of UV radiation all have different properties: UV-C radiation is the shortest and most powerful band, occurring between 100-280 nanometres. At 253.7nm it penetrates the nucleus of microorganisms, disrupting their DNA, destroying their ability to reproduce and effectively rendering them harmless. The Medixair device continuously decontaminates room air as it passes through a sealed UV-C chamber in the machine, which produces a stream of sterile air at a rate of 25 cubic metres each hour.

eligible for the room facility as it celebrates 1 UPG expands its UK white

The positive results of laboratory trials meant that by 2006, Medixair was already being successfully marketed overseas. The NHS however required further proof of performance. Specifically, the main issues were that the airborne transmission of HCAIs such as MRSA, C.difficile and norovirus was unproven; that there was no clinical evidence to prove that Medixair was effective; and that the product had not been submitted to the RRP for approval.

Department of Health’s ‘SMART UPG manufactures components and assemblies for a w including minimally invasive surgical devices, respirat Solutions and devices, patient monitoring systems and micro flu for HCAI’ competition: UPG’s core competencies include precision injection m it succeeded introduction and global supply chain management. as one of nine winners out of With our global headquarters in Oakbrook, Illinois and 250 entrants, Europe and China, we are one of the world’s largest co being awarded a DoH-sponsored In December 2009, UPG expanded its UK white room clinical trial at increased presence in the medical device sector. The 6 the Royal Free has been operational for 13 years and has class leadin In 2007, Pathogen Solutions made the Hospital. The decision to tackle each of these issues in TS16949, and ISO14001). results of this trial turn through a series of clinical trials: are imminent, a demanding and arduous route for a For further informationand please contact Neil Parsons Pathogen small company to take, but essential for Tel: 01443 471223 Email: Solutions is the product to realise its full potential. confident that it The company’s own research had already will confirm Dr indicated a growing body of evidence Nielsen’s view for airborne HCAI transmission. The that ‘Medixair issue particularly interested Dr Peder Bo should become Nielsen, Consultant Microbiologist at an essential Northwick Park Hospital, who offered to component of any undertake an approved clinical trial of strategy to deliver Medixair’s effect on MRSA within a side efficient infection ward environment. control measures in the modern Using a control room and a room fitted NHS’. with Medixair equipment, the trial produced positive results that were a Meanwhile, the revelation to the microbiologist. They company has just confirmed both that MRSA bacteria agreed a contract with Judy were transmitted through air, and that Breuer, Professor of Virology continuous air sterilisation significantly at University College London, to reduced the environmental level of undertake a world-first trial to test MRSA contamination, protecting the efficacy of air sterilisation against patients from being colonised by influenza viruses. the bacteria. A further trial at the Northwick Park went on to show that Medixair also greatly reduced the level of C.difficile in a ward heavily infected with Geoffrey Smith the bacteria. Director Armed with these results, the company submitted Medixair to the RRP. In January 2009 it gained a level 2 approval – awarded to only 13% of submissions – which meant the technology had been proven, but that further clinical trials were needed for ultimate RRP 1 status. Fortunately, it also made Medixair

Pathogen Solutions Ltd 87 Prospect Lane, Solihull West Midlands B91 1HS Tel: +44 (0) 7903 702708 Email: Web:


UPG expands its UK white room facility as it celebrates 13 years at Mountain Ash



Spring/Summer 2010 Issue 1

The HealthTech and Medicines Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) is built on the foundations of the original Health Technologies and bioProcessUK KTN’s. The KTN supports business innovation through partnerships, funding and knowledge transfer:

• Connecting partners: bringing together and facilitating collaborations with a common goal • Access to funding: Identify and influence new and existing sources of funding • Knowledge transfer: Opening doors to wider networks of people, organisations The KTN is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge transfer and innovation within the key application areas of medicines, associated bioprocessing and health technologies (medical devices and diagnostics, including imaging) addressing needs across SME’s to large multinationals. Reporting to the UK’s Technology Strategy Board (an executive non-governmental public body), Knowledge Transfer Networks are designed to improve the UK’s innovation performance by increasing the breadth and depth of knowledge transfer of technology into UK-based businesses and by accelerating the rate at which this process occurs. The HealthTech and Medicines KTN is focusing on the priority areas of:

• Health technologies Focusing on medical devices and diagnostics, including imaging

• Bioprocessing for biological medicines -

Dedicated to advancing the UK bioprocessing sector, which uses biological materials such as cells, bacteria or enzymes to develop medicines

• Regenerative medicine -

Creating living, functional tissues to repair or replace tissue or organ function lost due to age, disease, damage, or congenital defects

• Assisted living innovation platform -

Enabling the ageing population and those with long-term health conditions to live with greater independence

• Detection and identification of infectious agents innovation platform Developing diagnostic tests that will help to reduce the number of deaths and cases of illness caused by infectious diseases.

The KTN is active in the following:

• Groups in key clinical or issue-led topics such as Advanced Wound Management, Assistive Technologies, Clinical Trials, Drug Delivery, Healthcare Acquired Infections, Orthopaedics, Regenerative Medicine, Biopharmaceutical Formulation, Bioprocessing Advanced Therapies and Operational Excellence. These bring interested parties together, across government, industry,

academia and the clinical base, helping to identify issue and opportunities and leading to new partnerships. • Statement of Clinical Need (SOCN) – a key part of the innovation cycle is ensuring that technologies are developed that meet a clear clinical need. • Events – working in collaboration with other KTNs, professional institutions, trade associations and commercial organisations, an annual programme of events (physical and on-line) is run to ensure different parts of the community can meet and develop new areas of collaboration or make the right connections to speed up current developments. • _connect – as with all KTNs there is an active portal which enables share of information and knowledge, a comprehensive events diary, guidelines to regulations, funding opportunities. • Access to finance – innovation requires finance from the earliest stage to prototyping and initial manufacture and trials. The KTN advises on the various public grant schemes, public contracts and contacts into private venture for later stage developments. In particular, the KTN supports programmes funded by the Technology Strategy Board (Collaborative R&D, Innovation Platforms). At the same time as providing a single port of call for knowledge transfer between companies, universities, investors, healthcare professionals and technology organisations, the HealthTech and Medicines KTN has also been instrumental in the formation of partnerships, introducing people to each other, and helping them to access grants in Technology Strategy Board funding programmes. One example involves bringing people together to take part in the Assisted Living Innovation Platform (ALIP) a five-year programme to develop technology, systems and devices to help older people to continue to live in their own homes and maintain their independence. ALIP is looking across a broad spectrum of technologies, from communications networks to embedded sensors, and pulling in a wide range of different suppliers from small start-ups to multinational companies. In addition to the nuts and bolts of technology components, developing products for assisted living requires input from along a chain stretching from basic research through to healthcare specialists, payers and

providers, carers, families and the end users themselves. Key aspects include user centred design, social and behavioural aspects and business and economic modelling. Through ALIP the HealthTech and Medicines KTN is ensuring existing knowledge is disseminated, best practice is shared and future needs are captured and responded to. The KTN is also at the heart of shaping Technology Strategy Board programmes, informing companies when there are funding calls, helping with grant applications and putting likely project partners in touch with each other. As an example, in Regenerative Medicines, the HealthTech and Medicines KTN has been instrumental in bringing people together from across industry, academe, the National Health Service and supporting technology bodies such as the National Physical Laboratory and the British Standards Institute, to consider what is required to translate regenerative medicines into the standard of care in the NHS. Building on work in 2009, this year the KTN has organised three Regenerative Medicine Workshops at which clinicians have outlined the clinical needs, and what technology and services are required to address them, in the four selected areas of chronic cardiac failure, vascular disease, liver failure and large airway obstruction. These are intended to act as exemplars for wider NHS adoption of Regenerative Medicine. The three workshops have provided multiple opportunities for attendees to discuss what they bring to the field, and to scope the gaps that must be bridged to get products into the clinic. They were also a forum for the Technology Strategy Board to describe its Regenerative Medicine programmes, Beyond the opportunities that these large scale events provide to get a feel for the field of Regenerative Medicine as a whole, the HealthTech and Medicines KTN is also putting individual companies in touch with likely collaborators, and helping partnerships to access Technology Strategy Board funding. To some, knowledge transfer may seem a nebulous concept. But these days - when even multinational companies do not have all the skills, expertise and technology they require in house - bringing an innovation to life is likely to require a number of connections.

Knowledge Transfer Network HealthTech and Medicines

Building a Healthy Nation through Business Innovation

The HealthTech and Medicines KTN supports business innovation through partnerships, funding and knowledge transfer: � Connecting partners: Bringing together and facilitating collaborations with a common goal � Access to funding: Identify and influence new and existing sources of funding � Knowledge transfer: Opening doors to wider networks of people, organisations

Joining the HealthTech and Medicines KTN opens the door to these wider networks.

Technology Strategy Board Driving Innovation


Spring/Summer 2010 Issue 1

Well Connected

Do you have any ideas you would like to sumit to Boots Centre for Innovation? Key consumer needs

� � � � � � � � �

Improve ways to diagnose, treat and monitor key aspects of health, beauty and wellbeing through use of devices Support positive ageing through product and devices for mind and body Minimise the complications of living with chronic conditions Improve digestive health, particularly issues related to stress, poor diet and obesity Improve and maintain the health, look and feel of skin Minimise the severity and duration of pain Improve quality of sleep for everyone, including pregnant women, babies and the elderly Create more convenient methods of taking and using medicines and health products Improve the health and appearance of teeth and gums Improve the health, appearance and comfort of eyes

Border Crossing Nine months into its new incarnation, the HealthTech and Medicines KTN (Knowledge Transfer Network) is already expanding into areas where multidisciplinary talents are at a premium. It was formed by merging the HealthTech KTN and BioProcess UK, with their respective heads Sue Dunkerton and Tony Bradshaw now co-directors. The new combination has revealed complementary expertise in some of the most innovative areas of life science, where hitherto disparate specialisms converge. ‘The merger was first mooted in November 08,’ said Tony Bradshaw, ‘and by January 09 I was a convert. We were able to discuss openly what projects we were working on and why, and all the areas we were expanding into needed cross-team input.’ One of the most significant is regenerative medicine, which brings medical devices together with biotechnology. The merged KTN team proved host to half a dozen key people with expertise in each of the

our mission is to provide high quality innovative single-use sterile disposable products that deliver patient and clinical value


combined with exceptional levels of service.

Whether you’re looking for market intelligence in the Assisted Living and/or Infection Control sectors, we provide launch data, legislation/regulatory news, funding calls, marketing statistics, introductions, tender opportunities and so much more. To register, call us 0121 452 5636, or find out more visit:

T: +44 (0)1792 797910 F: 01792 797955 E:

myM-link, 4 Greenfield Crescent, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 3BE

necessary specialist areas, all of whom were keen to work together. Another prime focus is personalised or ‘stratified’ medicine. Combining diagnostics with biotechnology, it describes the stratifying of populations into types of individual that will respond to a specific drug in a particular way. The breast cancer drug Herceptin, for example, targets women with breast cancer in which the HER2 protein is overexpressed. By promising a better match of patients with therapies, stratification can also bring down the cost of using drugs that could otherwise be prohibitively expensive.

Crossing the boundaries of scientific disciplines means that highly expert specialists find themselves on unfamiliar territory. Making that move is a skill in itself, and its presence in the KTN’s own team makes them effective at sourcing and promoting it in the wider sector. ‘Expert workshops are a key vehicle we use,’ said Tony. ‘We can identify the top 30 or 40 people in the UK who can work across the areas involved, and invite them to help define the priorities, the bottlenecks, the big issues in getting this work translated into products on the market.’

17 Clarion Court, Enterprise Park, Swansea SA6 8RF

Last year’s Voices of Industry (VoI) campaign [see MedilinkUK Review Autumn 09] has prompted the establishment of a dedicated website for lifescience industry debate at The original VoI microsite proved an effective means of synthesizing input from across the sector into a concise set of recommendations, presented to the OLS in June last year. These were clearly reflected in the OLS blueprint, published last July and now being implemented. Consistent feedback is therefore all the more essential, and the OLS has given its encouragement and full backing to the new website. Like its progenitor, the site is the work of Medilink West Midlands (MedilinkWM). Bringing together

business leaders, public and private sector employees, entrepreneurs, academics, trade associations and scientists, it is already hosting ideas, arguments and issues from people who experience them at first hand. ‘These comments become conversations,’ said MedilinkWM’s CEO Tony Davis, ‘conversations shape solutions and solutions drive the agenda. The OLS is already embracing suggestions made on the site.’ Current live topics range from Gordon Brown’s pledge guaranteeing NHS payments to small businesses within ten days, to the new ‘patent box’ scheme introduced by Alistair Darling in the last budget.

The site launched with a high-profile webcast debating the merits of the UK as a viable marketplace for our life science companies. It confirmed growing concerns that many UK SMEs actually find it easier to sell overseas than into the home market. There was unanimous agreement that life science industries could and should play a significant part in UK economic recovery, but only if enlightened business principles could be applied to NHS procurement. The full webcast is available at by clicking on the ‘launch webcast’ button.


22 �����������������������������

Building a Healthy Nation through Business Innovation

Open Space medical professionals with

HealthTech and Medicines

Sue Dunkerton TWI Ltd +44 (0)1223 899000 Tony Bradshaw, BioIndustry Association, +44 (0)2075 657143

Your helping hand in Assisted Living and Infection Control.

myM-link is a membership service, which, through a range of three service options, provides a competitive advantage to private companies working in the Life Sciences industry.

Knowledge Transfer Network




Spring/Summer 2010 Issue 1

Clean Living

Well Informed

New Blood

A new technology from CellAura Technologies Ltd offers the potential to speed the process of early-stage drug development. The company has fused elements of chemistry and biology to design luminous labelling molecules that work on live cells. By painting the surfaces of live cells with fluorescent molecules that bind to specific proteins, potential new drug compounds can be detected as the brightness changes on the cells’ surfaces.


Using fluorescent labels in this way means that high-quality data can be quickly and cleanly obtained from experiments. This reduces the time taken to measure samples and avoids the environmental impact of radioactive waste disposal. It also enables live cellbased tests to be introduced at an earlier stage of the drug development process, to eliminate potential toxicity and other side effects as early as possible. This can save time and money to make earlystage drug development significantly more efficient.


A spin-out company from the University of Nottingham, CellAura combines expertise in both synthetic chemistry and molecular pharmacology – a mix of disciplines that is key to the effectiveness of these new products. Emda grants enabled the company to increase speed, reduce costs and improve accuracy, while helping to build a superior safety profile relative to existing technology in the field. CellAura is now working on data to validate the product range, prior to approaching potential customers and selling the concept into the market place. For more information call CEO Dai Hayward on 0115 912 4415 or email:

A new home dialysis device offers to transform the lives of people with kidney disease. Haemodialysis is a life-saving treatment for around 2 million patients worldwide, but the process itself is costly in terms of time, money and patients’ quality of life. Standard clinic dialysis machines are large, complex and require specialist nurses to operate them, and treatment typically demands 3 sessions per week of up to 4 hours. Yet studies show that extended and more frequent treatment results in better survival rates and patient wellbeing.

Checking the Fine Print A new means of creating low-cost printable electronics could revolutionise consumer packaging. Developed by Cambridge company Novalia, the Interactive Printed Media (IPM) technology integrates interactive circuitry into a traditional printing process, allowing printed media to respond with information, sound and light to user actions. From books and posters to cards and boxes, the applications are almost limitless – but with particular significance for pharmaceutical packaging. Scientist Kate Stone, who helped develop the IPM process, pointed out that here safety and security are as important to pack design as aesthetics. ‘A patient could potentially interact with a box or an inserted leaflet to be reminded about what dose of the medicine to take, and when,’ she said. ‘The interactive packaging could also highlight any safety precautions, which are usually hidden in the small print.’ Novalia’s designers begin with the graphics for the finished product and incorporate silver lines into the design which will form the circuit to drive the interactivity. Sensors, LEDs and audio devices can be added but critically, no extra wiring is required. A small, ultra-thin controller unit (which also contains the power supply) is manufactured separately and attached during the production process. The company is working to shrink this unit from its current few centimetres to something the size of a postage stamp and as easy to apply. ‘Although IPM involves some clever circuitry and cutting-edge components,’ said Kate, ‘our system uses proven printing techniques and does not require the addition of complex wiring. The beauty of our technique is that the finished product is no different – in terms of thickness, weight or rigidity – from its conventional counterpart.’ For more information call Ms Kate Stone on 01223 437 133 or email

Now Quanta Solutions, based in Alcester, is developing a revolutionary home haemodialysis system based on a patient-friendly cartridge-based device. SelfCare+ is intended to replace

current clinical machines, enabling smaller satellite clinics and offering the first genuinely portable dialysis option. The system uses innovative fluidics technologies to provide a lightweight dialysis machine the size of a carry-on suitcase, but without compromising clinical performance. The cartridge-based approach de-skills the dialysis set-up, allowing patients to treat themselves without assistance. The disposable cartridge is the only component in contact with the patient, so the machine requires no cleaning or sterilising between treatments. The cartridge will be supplied as part of a disposable kit, requiring only the

chemicals normally supplied for use on current machines. At present less than 5% of hameodialysis patients are treated at home, although studies show that 30-40% of them could potentially perform self-dialysis. SelfCare+ will be undergoing regulatory tests and trials later this year: all being well, staff and patients at the Sheffield Kidney Institute, the University of Sheffield´s Nephrology Unit and Leeds Teaching Hospitals will start clinical evaluation in early 2011. Projected for launch later that year, SelfCare+ will be made available to dialysis patients via their local renal units in NHS Trusts with progressive home programmes.

For further information call: +44 (0)1789 400043 or email:

Back to Basics Nothing is more mundane than going to the toilet – until we find we’re not able to without someone else’s help. And nothing is more humiliating than having to ask. But many illnesses restrict physical movement, balance and co-ordination: Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke and arthritis are just some conditions that can make someone unable sit on a toilet safely or to wipe themselves after using it. Andy Speechley, owner of Independent Care Products in Halifax, only realised the dismal impact of this basic problem when a close friend was incapacitated by a stroke. Unable to source a readymade device that could help, Andy developed his own: a combined electrically-operated bidet and commode. The Dignity commode consists of a supportive frame and toilet seat that incorporates a reservoir of clean

water and an electric pump built into the unit. Instead of just flushing after use, a tiny telescopic nozzle emerges from the seat with a warm jet of water to wash the bottom of the person using it, followed by warm air to dry them. The device turns out to be just as valuable to elderly people, whose paper-thin skin can be cleaned without risk of abrasion. Last but not least, it folds up for transport. Andy developed the original prototype in his conservatory, using ad hoc components from a windscreen-washer pump to a folding chair. He was then referred to the healthcare technology co-operative, Devices For Dignity (D4D), whose team of design engineers at Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield further developed and refined the design. The device has achieved national press coverage, after being showcased at the

national NHS Innovation Expo to an enthusiastic response from medical professionals. Andy has already presented his invention to former Health Secretary Andy Burnham, government advisor Lord Darzi and NHS head David Nicholson. The Dignity Commode has now been licensed to a major manufacturer who is creating a production model for the device, which will go on sale next year.

For further information email D4D at


Reading the Label



Spring/Summer 2010 Issue 1

Getting Through

A Clear Scan

Plain Speaking

In February, Metrasens and its product design partner Smallfry were announced as winners of ‘Industrial Product Design’ at the 2010 national Design Week Awards. This is the latest in a string of prizes won by this metal detection system for MRI scanning suites. A global first, the Ferroguard Beacon System was invented by Metrasens, a spin-out from leading defence technology and security company QinetiQ, and designed for market launch by Smallfry. The central magnet in an MRI scanner has such a powerful attraction to ferrous metals that it can hurl a porter’s trolley through a room, or rip a device from within the body of a patient. Produced as either a wall-mounted or freestanding system, the Ferroguard Beacon can differentiate between safe metallic objects and hazardous ferromagnetic ones. Both models can be operated in two modes: in Entryway mode, the system is located at the entrance to the MRI suite to detect loose objects that could turn into projectiles. In Prescreen mode, the system is placed in the changing room area and set to a high sensitivity level, so that it can scan patients for smaller items they may have

Barnsley Hospital and Sheffield University are developing a radically new communications device, designed for people whose conditions make intelligible speech difficult or impossible for them. Neural damage or disability often impairs the ability to speak, even while


on (or within) them before entering the MRI room. Through collaboration with Smallfry, Metrasens was able to reduce its product cost by 35 per cent, effect a ten-fold reduction in assembly time and ensure an eight-fold increase in turnover within a year. The FerroGuard product range is now saving lives, damage and money in more than seven countries. In the

US there is a six-fold increase in sales: the American College of Radiology is already recommending that all US MRI facilities have a warning system such as Ferroguard in each of their facilities.

For further information call Metrasens on 01684 585285 or email


High-performance Board


The unique qualities of a radiotranslucent, Magnetic Resonancecompatible positioning board have already won it a brace of awards this year. In February Lord Darzi presented Medibord with the Middle East Export Award for its eponymous product at the Arab Health Exhibition in Dubai; the following month Loughborough University awarded it a 2010 Da Vinci Award. Launched in 2009, the Medibord has been designed for patients to lie on when they undergo treatment or diagnostic procedures. It boasts significant improvements on traditional carbon fibre systems. Lightweight, exceptionally

rigid and environmentally friendly, the Medibord is magneto-radio translucent, which means it cannot interfere with the images produced by scanning or radiology technologies. As it conducts no electricity it does not generate any heat, again making it ideal for use with MRI scanners and radiotherapy equipment. The Medibord was created in partnership with Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH), in response to their oncologists’ need to fuse CT and MR scans to improve prostate-cancer treatment. It also enables NUH to use IMRT, a precise form of radiotherapy, to treat head and

neck tumours. As Medibord can be custom-shaped, NUH was able to retro-fit bespoke flat couch tops to its MR scanners and position patients with repeated precision to facilitate the fusion of the two types of scans. Successful clinical trials carried out by NUH have proved the Medibord’s significant benefits in radiotherapy and MRI scans and treatment. Medibord is now working closely with MRI scannerequipment manufacturers to produce specific equipment for them. In the near future, the company aims to produce a new range of boards for CT scanners.

intelligence is unaffected. The effect is intensely frustrating for those who experience it, whether temporary or permanent. People with cerebral palsy may have a lifelong struggle, and while victims of stroke may relearn the ability in time, sufferers from Parkinson’s disease must live with an inexorable decline.

In Touch Having pioneered the use of touch-screen patient check-in systems for GP surgeries, Northamptonshire-based Savience is taking the technology into hospitals. More than 900 surgeries and health centres have installed their products, and the company is now working with 15 hospital sites to develop the new ‘Assure’ system. It checks patients in, helps them find their way around the hospital and keeps them informed on waiting times. The system has already proved itself at the Mount Vernon Treatment Centre, a part of Hillingdon Hospital NHS Trust that opened last year for patients who have scheduled operations. Management of appointments at this busy facility was soon beset by lengthening queues and pressure on staff time. With the merging of the various clinic receptions into one, a new approach brought in the Savience system, installed earlier this year to tight timescales.

For people in situations like these, the new Vivoca (Voice Input Voice Output Communication Aid) will immeasureably improve their quality of life. Developed under the auspices of the National Institute of Health Research’s Invention for Innovation scheme, the Vivoca can translate severely distorted words into clear sentences. Comprising a handheld computer and a wireless Bluetooth headset, the pocket-sized device can also give automated commands and responses to common questions, or can communicate entire sentences having heard only one or two key words. Users will also be able to choose from a range of male and female recorded voices and regional dialects, while people who are slowly losing their speech - through Parkinson’s or motor neurone disease, for instance - can record their voice before it has completely deteriorated. Voices in the ‘bank’ already include the Barnsley poet Ian McMillan and the Yorkshire BBC newsreader Christa Ackroyd. At Sheffield University Professor Mark Hawley, who helped design Vivoca, considers it one of the most exciting developments in years for people with severe dysarthria (imperfect speech due to damage to the nervous system). ‘We’ve found a way of making synthetic speech sound like a real person,’ he said. ‘We’re hoping to get it running on mobile phones too.’ The device is now undergoing field trials with disabled users, and is intended to be available on the NHS within the next two years.

The Centre’s Nurse Manager confirms that queues are significantly reduced, patients and staff feel calmer, and nurses can concentrate on care instead of ‘couriering’ patients and notes from room to room. Even consultants who were initially apprehensive about the system are now asking if it can be implemented elsewhere. Reception staff can instantly see who has arrived (or not), make changes to appointments or set follow-ups, and track patients’ progress. Clinicians can view their day’s appointments, see when a patient is ready and call them at the touch of a button. The Assure system is now being installed in hospitals throughout the UK and beyond. Last December the new Downe Hospital at Downpatrick became first in Northern Ireland use the system in its Outpatient Department, which currently deals with some 25,880 attendances each year. In addition to working in partnership with the NHS, Savience is looking to expand its operations overseas and has already opened an office in the Netherlands to serve clients in Holland and Germany. For further information visit 01327 811872 / 01327 811872

For further information call Medibord on 0115 9338343 or email For more information visit www


Magnetic Attraction


Spring/Summer 2010 Issue 1

REVIEW gets new life

Comfort Zone

Sitting Comfortably A unique chair design is set to transform the lives of midwifery health professionals. The device is the brainchild of former midwife – now entrepreneur – Cathy Topping. After 30 years in her profession, she had to retire after developing osteoarthritis in her knees due to the constant squatting and kneeling demanded by her work. The Topping Chair is her answer to a problem increasingly experienced by midwives, owing to changes in methods of baby delivery and best clinical practice. The design’s central feature is a lifting mechanism that allows the Chair to have four levels of operation, enabling

the user to work comfortably at a low level and reducing the need to kneel or squat. Made from recyclable materials, the Chair incorporates an antimicrobial-impregnated polypropylene to make it durable. It is also lightweight, easy to clean and portable, simply folding for transportation. The design promises to improve both the performance and the comfort of users. At the same time it reduces the risk of osteoarthritis, saving the costs of potential litigation for the NHS. Research shows that kneeling or squatting for just 20 minutes a day increases the risk of osteoarthritis developing earlier than it otherwise might.

To develop the Topping Chair and bring it successfully to market, Cathy joined forces with Leicester’s De Montfort University (DMU) Art & Design Faculty and also its ProspectIP team, which provides fully-managed support that allows the owner to retain intellectual property rights. The patent for the Topping Chair is now pending in the USA and Europe. Cathy is currently working with DMU to research potential markets and develop her prospectus to identify suitable companies for a licensing agreement with both the UK and the US.

UK Lifescience Industry relaunches the work of the Medilink UK Review, bringing you the best in national science, technology and business. Call now to advertise in the next issue.

Tel: 029 2047 3456 or email:

Published twice annually with a circulation of 10,000 named contacts, UK Lifescience Industry is distributed nationally to:

From knee replacements to nanomedicine, UK Lifescience Industry covers the complete health technology spectrum.

� senior sector experts and leading

In-depth features explore sector-wide concerns

Sector experts contribute specialist columns

Case studies describe the challenges of innovation


� health technology companies � companies selling into the sector � academia, NHS and charities � government departments and

business support organizations

� major national and international

Digests cover news and developments throughout the UK

events including Medica

For further information call DMU Press Office on 0116 250 6244.

Taking the Strain

The Backsaver does away with much of this risk, using a simple but effective design that allows the user to unroll it, place the wheelchair on top and ‘walk’ it into the boot using the built-in handholds. The effect is to reduce the

Intelligent, informed, accessible


A new device for wheelchair users will help to make car travel a much simpler proposition. Going on a car journey can be a real problem with a wheelchair: unless the vehicle is specially adapted, wheelchairs have to be folded and stored in the boot by the helper or carer, many of whom are themselves elderly. Even for stronger people, it is all too easy to cause strain or injury through not using the correct posture when loading and unloading.

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lifted weight by 30%, while at the same time ensuring that the lifter uses the correct and more efficient muscle groups. Compact and easy to fit, the device can be fitted into most vehicles. The idea for the Backsaver originated with the South Birmingham PCT, who took it to MidTECH, the NHS Innovation Hub for the North-west, for help with IP and commercialisation. MidTECH brought in Coventry University’s pioneering new Health Design and Technology Institute

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(HDTI), who designed and built a prototype that was exhibited at the 2009 Naidex exhibition. Here it caught the eye of Mangar International, who now manufacture and sell the Backsaver under license from the Trust.


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For further information call Mangar on 0800 2800 485 or email


Spring/Summer 2010 Issue 1

It pays to pull together


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