Lancaster University

This is archived news from Lancaster University. You can find up-to-date stories in our current news section.

Better clinical decisions for less effort

10/07/2005 14:07:51

Lancaster University’s InfoLab21 and a software company have joined forces to improve clinical decision-making for patients suffering from thrombosis and strokes.

Nearly 2 per cent of the aging population take anticoagulation drugs that prevent thrombosis and strokes. Too much anticoagulant drug can cause life threatening bleeds and too little can cause the patient to suffer from blood clots.

With this in mind, Milnthorpe-based 4S Information Systems Ltd in Cumbria and Lancaster University’s Department of Communication Systems in InfoLab21 have been awarded an Industrial CASE studentship through the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The award pays for the student’s University fees, student stipend and incidental costs. The company also makes a monetary contribution over the duration of the project.

Over three-and-a half-years, a Lancaster University PhD student will create and test cutting-edge prediction software models within 4S’s current decision support software with the aim of improving the current performance of clinical decision-making.

4S Managing Director Mr Syd Stewart, Professor Costas Xydeas and Dr Plamen Angelov based in InfoLab21 (a new ICT facility dedicated to research, knowledge and technology transfer for the benefit of the local economy) believe that this new research will support clinical decision-making by working out the safest treatment timings and doses. They hope the research will improve best care practices in hospitals and medical centres as well as improving the prevention and diagnosis of thrombosis.

Facilitated through a series of meetings arranged by InfoLab21’s Knowledge Business Centre, Mr Stewart, Professor Xydeas and Dr Angelov have been discussing and exploring ideas for collaborative research. 4S has 17 years experience in the haematology market and Lancaster University’s Department of Communication Systems has unique expertise in real-time, adaptive, self-learning, rule-based modelling and prediction algorithms as well as related software.

Founded in 1984, 4S is a world leader in anticoagulation decision support software with over 300 customers in 14 countries. Their customers manage over 500,000 patients and process between 6 and 10 million patient treatments per year. Their mission is to help make a significant and lasting contribution to chronic disease care on a global basis.

Syd Stewart, Managing Director of 4S, said: "For my company and our local University, this is a great example of knowledge/technology transfer. Already, a number of leading haematologists have said they are willing to offer clinical guidance which will help the research enormously and at the same time the research will enhance the competitiveness of 4S’s existing products."

Professor Xydeas who is leading the Digital Signal Processing Research in the Department of Communication Systems said: "We’re hoping that the output of the research will open up the application of this technology to bio-medical cybernetics such as diabetes and anaesthesia control. Already these technologies are applied in other areas such as complex process modelling and prediction and control in the aerospace and telecommunications industries."

Mark Hughes, NWDA Executive Director of Enterprise, Innovation and Skills, said: "The NWDA is delighted to award this studentship to 4S and Lancaster University. Encouraging stronger collaboration between businesses and universities is vital to improving the region’s competitiveness, enabling businesses to exploit the wealth of knowledge and expertise available through our world-class learning and education sector and turn this into business success. Studentships are a valuable way to promote these links and create substantial business benefits, as well as advancing research in this important area."

Jane Mefo from the EPSRC said: "The EPSRC is committed to encouraging companies and organisations to participate in cutting-edge research and training. This type of funding is designed as an opportunity for companies to take the lead in defining and arranging projects with an academic partner of their choice. "

Consequently, EPSRC has devised several routes for allocating Industrial CASE awards, which ensure companies and Universities have the opportunity to define and carry out research which contributes to society and the economy, and encourages participation across sectors. EPSRC has allocated a total of 267 studentships for the academic session 2005/06, the majority directly to Companies, but also to Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) and Faraday Partnerships; both of whom act as agents, targeting Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and other companies.

For further information about the eligibility for and the value of contributions for CASE Awards, please contact the EPSRC directly.