The European Union has awarded a European consortium €4.4 million to the SMARTSHAPE project to focus on developing an implantable medical device for continuous blood pressure monitoring.
High blood pressure is the leading global contributor to premature death, causing more than 9 million deaths annually. High blood pressure is a chronic, lifelong risk factor that, if undiagnosed or poorly controlled, can lead to serious cardiovascular events. Many high-risk patients require long-term monitoring to customize drug therapies and improve health care outcomes, but there is no clinically acceptable method for continuous blood pressure monitoring that patients can use outside of the hospital.
The SMARTSHAPE Consortium is chaired by Professor William Wiggins, who is an SFI-funded Research Professor in Interventional Cardiology in the University of Galway’s School of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences.
According to Professor Wiggins: The best innovations start with clinical need. Patients who need to be monitored are better off at home rather than in a hospital. There is a huge opportunity in the market for an easy-to-use and less invasive medical solution for continuous blood pressure monitoring.”
Professor Wijns is also a funded investigator at CÚRAM, the SFI Research Center for Medical Devices based at the University of Galway which focuses on developing biomedical implants and therapeutic and diagnostic devices that address the needs of patients with chronic diseases.
Dr Atif Shahzad, Joint Director of the Smart Sensors Laboratory at the University of Galway and Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research said,: “Our SMARTSHAPE consortium has developed a technology-enabled IP-protected disruptive sensor for continuous pressure measurement. Challenges related to biocompatibility, longevity, and delivery to target tissues need to be overcome to deliver the sensor to market.”
Dr. Shahzad added: “This project will address these challenges by formulating an innovative biomaterial: a new temperature-dependent memory polymer (SMP). SMPs will enable the development of a microsensor that can be folded, inserted into the body through a minimally invasive procedure, and “opened” when placed at body temperature. to take a predetermined form.”
The consortium of eight partner institutions is led by the University of Galway and includes partners across Ireland, the UK, Switzerland, Italy, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic, and consists of two academic partners, two multinational companies, one ISO certified company, two SMEs and a patient collaboration company.
Kevin Michaels Kim, CEO of Merakoi, which facilitates patient collaboration in research. He said: “We are committed to putting the patient at the center of SMARTSHAPE, allowing us to create new solutions that truly meet patients’ needs. Merakoi will play an important role in the SMARTSHAPE Consortium by integrating the patient’s voice across the product lifecycle. Our ability to leverage a deep understanding of patients from the start enables the Consortium to Developing beneficial solutions for patients that increase adoption and impact of innovative technologies and devices.”
Dr Sandra Ganley, Senior Research Associate in Cardiovascular Risk Factors Research, University of Galway School of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences said: “Blood pressure monitoring will represent the first implementation of SMARTSHAPE. However, the capabilities of this sensor solution greatly exceed BP monitoring. Continuous physiological pressure monitoring can provide key information for early diagnosis, patient-specific treatment, and preventive healthcare in a wide range of healthcare indications. This will lead to greatly expand the possibilities and avenues open for other product and research innovation.”
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