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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/V047868/1
Title: When a Micro-Robot Encounters a Bowel Lesion
Principal Investigator: Liu, Dr Y
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
ETH Zurich Litoral Polytechnic School (ESPOL) Massachusetts Institute of Technology
NHS Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Fdn Trust
Department: Engineering
Organisation: University of Exeter
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 01 May 2021 Ends: 30 June 2023 Value (£): 202,450
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Non-linear Systems Mathematics
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Healthcare
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Detection of bowel cancer is currently performed by visual inspection of the colonic mucosa during endoscopy, which is less reliable for small-sized lesions that are not easily visualised. If they are not detected and removed at an early stage, there is a chance that they may become cancerous. This project seeks to develop a new mathematical tool for analysing the sensing capability of micro-robots to aid the detection of hard-to-visualise bowel lesions. Micro-robots experiencing vibrations, frictions, and impacts, known as non-smooth systems, exhibit a rich variety of different long-term behaviours co-existing for a given set of parameters, which is referred to as multi-stability or co-existing attractors. When the robot moves in the colon and encounters a lesion, some particular attractor may dominate its dynamics, while the other co-existing attractors could fade away due to the tissue's mechanical properties associated with different stages of malignant transformation. This significant change in multi-stability can be utilised to distinguish between healthy and abnormal tissues. The applicant proposes to use for the first time robot's multi-stability through the development of state-of-the-art numerical techniques to analyse such robot-lesion correlation, and produce a suite of computational analysis and advanced control methods for cancer detection and staging. In the long term, this work will initiate a new modality for bowel cancer screening, delivering an efficient minimally invasive procedure for patients. The unique research approach of this project, a joint effort of numerical and experimental studies, and the research collaboration with an applied mathematician and two NHS gastroenterologists, will secure a leading global position for the UK in applied non-smooth dynamics, micro-robots and early cancer diagnosis.
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Organisation Website: http://www.ex.ac.uk