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14 September 2006 PR 06/104

New technology aims to boost the efficiency of angioplasties and vascular bypass grafts
An innovative technology being developed at Loughborough University aims to cut both the number of amputations and the costs of re-grafting and shorten hospital stays by speeding patient recovery.

Peripheral Arterial Disease is where blocked arteries in the leg reduce supply of blood to feet and lower leg muscles. The condition affects more than 90 million worldwide and is an important risk marker for heart attacks and strokes that may be preventable by earlier diagnosis. Severe blockages can be treated, with minimally-invasive intervention (angioplasty) but critical blockages require a highly-invasive bypass graft with either donor or synthetic veins. When these therapies fail, amputation may be required.

The new technology aims to automate the intensive process of monitoring bypass grafts where patients are checked every hour for up to 24 immediately after the operation. If impending bypass graft failure could be detected earlier, drug therapy or other interventions could be performed to restore blood supply and save the graft. But if left too late, the failed graft must be replaced. Second time around, this is a longer, more complicated and costly procedure.

At present there are no standalone automated bypass graft monitoring techniques. The current post-operative methods range from examining foot pulse by hand, which requires considerable skill and experience, and magnetic resonance imaging, which is expensive and impractical for routine monitoring.

The technology’s development is being accelerated by a £65,000 research grant from East Midlands Development Agency (emda). Mike Carr, emda’s Executive Director of Business Services, says: “The new Regional Economic Strategy - ‘A Flourishing Region,’ co-ordinated by emda and published in July, identifies increased research and development as a key priority in developing a dynamic region founded on innovative and knowledge focused businesses. It also recognises healthcare as a priority sector for the regions future economy. We’re pleased to support Dialog Devices through our Grant for Research and Development scheme, since this project is a good example of how East Midlands companies are aiming to compete successfully in a global economy.”

“There’s a clear need for greater understanding of the physiology and mechanisms of graft failures,” says Dr Vincent Crabtree, inventor and technical director of Loughborough University spin out Dialog Devices Ltd. He continues, “This grant enables us to capture a wealth of data from straightforward to problematic procedures in order to assess the feasibility of a robust, automated system for the early detection of bypass graft failure.”

The development of the automated bypass graft monitoring system marks the second promising technology in Dialog Devices’ medical device portfolio. The first, PADD, is a quick and easy to perform, non-invasive test for Peripheral Arterial Disease. A successful trial has just been completed at the Royal Free Hospital London, and discussions are already underway with a leading US medical device manufacturer.

“Our ethos is to develop innovative health technologies with global reach that focus on prevention over treatment and shift diagnosis into primary care clinics and GP surgeries,” says CEO Jody Brown. She continues, “The vascular grafts market is worth around $350m and is growing 8% a year.

Our bypass graft monitoring device is ideally suited to the profound change required in order to deliver cost-effective healthcare.”


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Notes to editors
1. About Dialog Devices (http://www.dialogdevices.co.uk)
Dialog Devices Ltd is a spin out company from Loughborough University trading since 2003. Its main focus is on design, development and commercialisation of non-invasive bio-medical health technology. It has an ongoing clinical collaboration with Professor George Hamilton at the Vascular Unit, University Department of Surgery, Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust Hospital, London, UK.
2. Loughborough has an established reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry, and unrivalled sporting achievement. Assessments of teaching quality by the Quality Assurance Agency place it in the top flight of UK universities; the National Student Survey ranked Loughborough equal first among full-time students; and industry highlights the University in its top five for graduate recruitment. Around 40% of Loughborough’s income is for research, and 60% for teaching. The University has been awarded five Queen's Anniversary Prizes: for its collaboration with aerospace and automotive companies such as BAE Systems, Ford and Rolls Royce; for its work in developing countries; for pioneering research in optical engineering; for its world-leading role in sports research, education and development; and for its outstanding work in evaluating and helping to develop social policy-related programmes.
In 2006 Loughborough celebrates the 40th anniversary of its University Charter, awarded on 19 April 1966 in recognition of the excellence achieved by Loughborough College of Advanced Technology and its predecessor Colleges. Loughborough University of Technology was renamed Loughborough University in 1996.

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