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$24.4 million for research into future health care solutions

Ten research grants to help solve some of the biggest health problems facing the UK have been awarded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The projects focus on developing new techniques for screening and treating major public health issues such as cancer, stroke, AIDS, influenza, MRSA and dementia.

The grants, worth 16.5m, have been given by the EPSRC, acting as the lead Research Council in a cross Research Council Programme called "Nanoscience through Engineering to Application."

  • Scientists at Swansea University are leading a project with Boots the chemist to produce the first affordable home based stroke detector. 750,000 people in the UK are currently on anti-coagulant drugs due to risk of stroke. The new device will be first tested by the NHS and could then be available to the public within five years time.

  • Middlesex University are developing an affordable cancer screening device for use in local health clinics. The scanners could be a cheap and accurate alternative to expensive MRI scanners which often have a long waiting list.

  • Newcastle University has a team working on a hand-held sensor system to test people for infectious microorganisms such as MRSA.

John Wand, EPSRC Head of Nanotechnology & Next Generation Healthcare, said: "The research we are funding is about using nanotechnology to develop healthcare solutions for the future. It's about working in partnership towards cheaper, more effective treatments, when you need them."

Further additional funding for three years has been earmarked for the most successful projects with the expectation that the technology will be sufficiently advanced to secure further finance to advance application of the new technologies.

Nanotechnology became a key strategy for the EPSRC in 2006. The EPSRC Nanotechnology Grand Challenge, under which these grants have been made, is part of the Research Council UK's (RCUK) broader nanotechnology programme aimed at realising a transformational impact in areas that are important to society such as energy, healthcare and the environment.

The Nanotechnology Grand Challenge was developed in close consultation with members of the public and took account of their aspirations and concerns relating to potential nanotechnology applications for healthcare.

The EPSRC is working closely with other Research Councils and the Technology Strategy Board to ensure the delivery of this important programme.

6.7m was allocated as part of the Energy Nanotechnology Grand Challenge in May 2008. The third EPSRC Nanotechnology Grand Challenge, with 5m to look at how nanotechnology can help the environment, will be announced later in 2009.


Contact: Dan Stern
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

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