With a clear focus on clinical and market needs, Health Technologies at Strathclyde brings together academics from the University's four faculties, combining expertise in science, engineering, economics and the social and psychological sciences.
Our multidisciplinary teams are developing technologies for new drugs, medical devices and diagnostics, as well as assessing their economic impact and effect on quality of life and informing policy on key health issues.
Our research themes include:
Heart and circulatory diseases continue to increase throughout the world, and Strathclyde researchers are addressing the need to reduce risk factors in the population, including smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise, while working to improve medicines and medical devices to treat patients.
We are involved at every stage from basic research to technology development, and we have a distinct and diverse range of expertise extending from biological research to psychology and motivation, including medicinal chemistry, drug delivery, medical device technology and mathematical modelling. The following are just two examples of current activities.
In drug development, there is particular concern about cardiac toxicity that is not predicted by currently used toxicology tests. We are working with a major pharmaceutical company to develop in vivo models that will allow more accurate predictions of adverse cardiac effects. By use of a novel intracellular biochemical marker, we can correlate drug effects on cardiac contractility with their cardiotoxicity. Ultimately, the collaboration will provide the company with experimental models that can be used to predict with more confidence the cardiovascular safety of new drugs in development.
Drug-eluting stents have revolutionised the approach to arterial disease, but current devices are still not optimal. We are working towards a system that can accurately predict the optimum profile for the rate of drug release from coated stents. This will benefit patients, who will have safer and more effective treatment of their coronary heart disease, and it will benefit companies that make drug-eluting stents by improving performance, cutting development times and reducing costs.
With one in three people suffering from cancer at some stage in their lives, better treatments are needed urgently. Strathclyde researchers are responding by seeking the next generation of drugs and drug delivery systems.
The University’s Cancer Research UK Formulation Unit is the only academic cancer drug formulation unit in the country licensed to produce novel formulations for clinical trials. It has been operating since 1983 and has a wealth of experience with a wide range of compounds and different dosage forms.
Cancer Research UK is also funding a 5-year programme of research at Strathclyde that aims to find new drug candidates to treat the currently intractable forms of prostate cancer. The Strathclyde team links clinical insights to fundamental biology, medicinal chemistry, drug screening and testing of promising compounds in appropriate models of the disease.
In parallel, our cancer research network is combining strengths in chemistry, physics and biology at the nano-scale to investigate new diagnostics, and advances in imaging for cancer therapy. Similarly, new treatments for deep-seated tumors that avoid radiation damage to healthy tissue are being developed using advanced high-energy beam technology.
Many cancer patients may endure a combination of treatments including surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormonal treatment generating complex psychological impacts on the patients’ well-being and quality of life. This aspect of the patient journey is also important to Health Technologies at Strathclyde where experts in assessing the impact of disease and disability are actively researching quality of life and wellbeing in patient groups.
Disorders of the brain including depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, and cerebrovascular disorders are the most common cause of serious and chronic disability worldwide.
Current treatments are inadequate because of our limited understanding of how the brain becomes dysfunctional in disease and how the process of rehabilitation can be optimised.
Successful diagnostic and therapeutic advances can only be realised through the integration of research with cutting-edge technologies, and close interactions between academics, clinicians and industry. Our active and vibrant network is delivering fundamental and applied research.
We are working with a major pharmaceutical company as part of a Pan-Scottish collaboration to find new drug candidates for schizophrenia and to develop new preclinical models based upon human genetics and brain circuitry which will accelerate drug development. Opportunities to develop new biomarkers have been provided by new algorithms mapping altered brain activity and the application of high performance methods to detect metabolic changes in the brain.
In stroke our multidisciplinary teams are focusing on rehabilitation from basic research to product and intervention developments including improving stem cell treatment and using augmented visual feedback with gait training in sub-acute stroke. We are working with assistive technology companies to develop virtual reality games for improving cognitive deficits in stroke survivors.
Our research is also exploring wirelessly controlled deep brain stimulation devices for the development of treatments for Parkinson ’s disease and mental illness.
Our teams at Strathclyde are generating new insights into disease mechanisms and from this developing the products and interventions that will transform the treatment of brain disorders.
Poor health in childhood leads to high mortality and lifelong medical, psychological and practical challenges. To ensure lifelong wellbeing new approaches are needed to paediatric medical management through better use of drugs and the introduction of new smart medical devices. For example, for children with birth defects, corrective surgery and the use of implanted medical devices can be life-saving, but in the growing child results in life-threatening revision surgeries through to adulthood. Difficulties also exist in prescribing drugs for use in children as many are only licensed for use in adults.
In medical devices, our medical engineers are developing next generation implantable devices that grow and adapt with the recipient child to meet their specific needs. To achieve this, research spans smart material development and power solutions, device modelling, tissue engineering and rapid prototyping for bespoke medical devices based on imaging and advanced manufacture.
Across the spectrum of our activity in paediatric healthcare research, our engineers and scientists are actively embedded in the clinical setting. In this way we can develop clinically grounded solutions to the most challenging needs of the patient population. In meeting these challenges, we lean heavily on our track record in medical engineering and pharmacy (formulation and prescription) and our strong commercial links ensure that our evolving technologies meet the manufacturing and regulatory standards required to successfully deliver novel technologies to the clinical setting.
Our successes will ultimately reduce the number of hospital days, associated risk and the societal challenges faced by children and families who experience serious childhood illness.
Disability impacts on mobility, personal care and mental health. It often results from incurable, chronic conditions that are difficult to manage and it impacts on life quality, wellbeing and independence. With an ageing population, there is a global interest in how technology can be used to combat disability and maintain functional capacity.
Our multidisciplinary research infrastructure allows us to work closely with stakeholders representing users, clinicians and industry to develop the technologies and interventions that can lessen the impact of chronic disabling and age related conditions. Through applied medical engineering based on cutting edge and smart technologies, we aim to facilitate recovery (rehabilitation), enable and replicate lost function (prosthetics) and provide assistance to enhance functional capability (assistive technologies). Critically, we have the facilities to develop new rehabilitation technologies and the capacity to evaluate and quantify their use in real world scenarios.
The University of Strathclyde has been an innovator in rehabilitation engineering and medical devices for 50 years. We are establishing, with funding from the Scottish Government Health Directorates, a Centre for Excellence in Rehabilitation. The centre will provide innovative platforms for world-leading applied research in rehabilitation that will be guided by clinical, economic and social need.
Today, our cross-disciplinary, Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology programme is providing opportunities for health services and industry to engage in research to improve outcomes for those living with disabilities. We collaborate with local, national and international partners.
A global epidemic of obesity, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes is affecting people in most countries of the world – with aging populations and sedentary lifestyles resulting in dramatic increases in the conditions. These non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have a devastating impact on health, economies and societies.
Efficient and cost-effective promotion of physical activity has been confirmed as a ‘best bet’ in public health, and Strathclyde’s pioneering research is contributing to these global initiatives.
The University is the base for the Scottish Physical Activity Research Collaboration (SPARColl), funded by Scottish Government, which aims to provide evidence about the promotion of walking for public health gain, and to disseminate this information to the benefits of policy and practice. Our research includes the evaluation of key physical activity initiatives including a 'travelling green' curriculum-based intervention for primary schoolchildren to increase walking and cycling to schools.
Strathclyde researchers have wide ranging expertise in life-course physical activity, physical activity measurement and more broadly in public health interventions evaluation. We are well-placed through our international collaborations to provide relevant evidence and expertise for the developing world, where there is limited capacity for research and policy in physical activity for health.