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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S025987/1
Title: Next-Generation Sensing For Human In Vivo Pharmacology- Accelerating Drug Development In Inflammatory Diseases
Principal Investigator: Dhaliwal, Professor K
Other Investigators:
Walmsley, Professor SR Hopgood, Professor JR Henderson, Professor RK
Bradley, Professor M Akram, Dr ARK
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK)
Department: Centre for Inflammation Research
Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 October 2019 Ends: 30 September 2023 Value (£): 1,463,801
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Image & Vision Computing Med.Instrument.Device& Equip.
Medical Imaging
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Healthcare Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
05 Feb 2019 Healthcare Impact Partnership February 2019 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Inflammatory diseases are responsible for significant death, disability and poor outcomes and are a major financial burden on the health service. Despite decades of research and billions of pounds of R&D investment, no targeted therapeutics exist that modulate neutrophils (a key cell involved in inflammation and also the major cell that surrounds lung cancers and promotes invasiveness and poor prognosis). Acute and chronic inflammatory diseases such as asthma, COPD and lung injury are common and are now increasing in incidence and severity due to the aging population. Hence, this research addresses, one of the biggest challenges facing modern drug development, the need to develop in-human assay systems that provide confidence in early trials to either continue progressing or terminating drug development programmes. A major cause for failures of drug development include the historical reliance on animal models of disease which do not accurately reflect human disease. It is essential to develop new technologies to understand and evaluate disease and drug effectiveness in vivo in situ in humans.

This research proposal will develop to near-clinical readiness, novel state of the art engineering and mathematical approaches to improve the quality of the data received from a sensing system called Kronoscan which is able to image and sense in real-time at microscopic detail in new dimensions using some of the world's fastest detector technology, measuring fluorescence lifetime data of inflammatory biomarkers at video rate (>10fps). Fluorescence lifetime overcomes the significant limitations of intensity fluorescence imaging and improves quantification. In patients, we will enable this through a method called microendoscopy suited to diseases that affect the lungs and gastrointestinal tracts and other areas where we can pass small imaging fibres deep into tissue. This method will be coupled alongside chemical SmartProbes which "light" up when they interact with inflamed cells and tissues.

The project will be undertaken in partnership with GlaxoSmithKline who will provide "tool" compounds in development for clinical trials. GSK already use other imaging methods such as CT Scans and PET Imaging but see this approach of adding in high resolution ultra sensitive microscopic imaging to the evaluation of drug action as a major addition to the drug development process and an essential step to improving a currently expensive and poorly productive drug development pathway.

Work on the different elements needed to create this technology platform will be undertaken by investigators spanning signal processing, electrical engineering, chemistry and clinical science at the University of Edinburgh in collaboration with GSK divisions. This project will be based in the Proteus interdisciplinary "hub" to ensure rapid product development. The researchers will spend time in each others labs in Edinburgh and GSK as well as arranging an open network meeting to ensure broader engagement. The scientists (researcher co-investigators) in the proposal will benefit significantly from networking and establishing the area of next-generation in vivo pharmacology.

A key ambition of the research will be to pave the way for subsequent clinical and commercial impact and as such user (clinical and regulatory) input will be paramount during the development of the technology. The team will leverage existing capability and expertise in manufacturing, regulatory and commercialisation support to expedite development.

In summary, this project will generate;

1) A cutting edge point-of-care technology platform which will help drug developers, patients, doctors and health care workers throughout the world.

2) Career development of the researcher Co-Is.

3) Develop an entirely new theme with "Big Pharma".

4) A sustainable network to disseminate the technology through GSK's imaging franchise.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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