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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T020997/2
Title: Lighting the Way to a Healthy Nation - Optical 'X-rays' for Walk Through Diagnosis & Therapy
Principal Investigator: Bradley, Professor M
Other Investigators:
Parkes, Dr AJ Simpson, Professor H Henderson, Professor RK
Oreffo, Professor R Torres Torres, Dr M Somekh, Professor M
Mahajan, Professor S Wright, Professor AJ Richardson, Professor DJ
Xu, Dr L Akram, Dr ARK
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Defence Science & Tech Lab DSTL TRUMPF Laser UK Ltd
Department: Precision Healthcare University Research
Organisation: Queen Mary University of London
Scheme: Programme Grants
Starts: 01 August 2023 Ends: 30 November 2025 Value (£): 2,847,779
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Digital Signal Processing Med.Instrument.Device& Equip.
Medical Imaging Optical Devices & Subsystems
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Aerospace, Defence and Marine Manufacturing
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Imagine a world where walking through a revolving door or archway allows "invisible light" (light outside our normal visual range) to generate detailed 3D images of any patient with high resolution! This is the global vision and targeted ambition of this 2050 proposal. This will allow us to target very early detection of disease using light (referred to as a non-ionising radiation technology) in association with fast computational methods and artificial intelligence (AI) to reconstruct images. This will be transformative, is a practical reality, and in addition potentially offers unique treatment options for the healthcare needs of 2050.

These goals will be achieved by simultaneous interdisciplinary advances:

- Harnessing of world-leading optical physics - with lasers that work at wavelengths of light that are invisible to the naked eye - akin to radio waves but with very different frequencies.

- Rethinking of existing detector technology and development of layers of new chemistries and sensor materials to allow them to function at these "invisible colours"

- Development of novel image restoration tools and new computational optics and imaging that will allow us to access information at depth that was previously hidden without any injection of dyes or causing inconvenience.

- Validation of the technology on diseases that have huge impacts on quality of life and huge NHS costs, for example osteoarthritis and cancer.

Why is this needed?

(i). Bone disease: By 2050 there will be over 2 billion people aged over 60. This is wonderful news for us all, but will present a variety of healthcare challenges. For example it is predicted that the numbers of hip fractures worldwide will increase from 1.7 million in 1990 to 6.3 million in 2050. In addition, musculoskeletal conditions are worsened by the rising problem of obesity - that affects old and young alike with half the UK population predicted to be obese by 2050. Our technology will impact on these statistics. Detecting disease early and affordably and non-invasively will allow life-style changes to be made by patients (before it is too late) - leading to positive effects on quality of life and broad impact in relation to the NHS.

(ii). Cancer: In the UK 1 in 2 of those born after 1960 will develop cancer with a 20% chance of dying from that cancer within 5 years. In 2050, as longevity has increased, the chances of someone getting cancer in their lifetime will be 8 in 10. Being able to influence these statistics will have dramatic impacts. Our vision is that non-invasive externally applied illumination sources - with micron precision - will be able to illuminate a tumour in a three-dimensional sense and destroy it.

Driving patient health: Now think of the impact of what else the deeply penetrating and focused light might be able to do? Interacting with tissues selectively in a three-dimensional manner - could we hit activate drugs in a localised 3D pattern? Will we be able to drive fat cell metabolism? The possibilities are tremendous and we seek to address these in our research.

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