NUI Galway researchers and company partners have been awarded over €10.3 million in Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF ). The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund was established under Project Ireland 2040 and is run by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation with administrative support from Enterprise Ireland.
Two of the funded projects will see teams at NUI Galway partnering with AuriGen Medical, an NUI Galway spin-out company specialising in electrophysiology and structural heart, dedicated to transforming the management of persistent atrial fibrillation. A third DTIF supported project will see the collaboration between teams at the NUI Galway Centre for Cell Manufacturing (CCMI ) and ONK Therapeutics Ltd, also Galway based. ONK Therapeutics is also an NUI Galway spin out who are a clinically focused company who have developed a disease-specific cell product approach to tough to treat cancers.
Professors Martin O’Halloran, Adnan Elahi and Leo Quinlan will co-lead the project that will allow the Translational Medical Device Lab (TMD-Lab ) to continue and grow its research collaboration with AuriGen Medical. The project will support the development of a novel medical device for the treatment of Atrial Fibrillation and ultimately stroke. The project will explore the fundamental science of electroporation on both a cellular and tissue level, while also translating this basic science into a refined and optimised patient treatment. The TMD-Lab has significant experience in ablation, working across Radio Frequency, Microwave and Electroporation technologies, with a range of national and international industry partners. This large three year project will allow the team to further cement its expertise in this growing medical device field, and become a European leader in ablation research.
The second project in collaboration with AuriGen Medical will support the development of sensors for monitoring the treatment of Atrial Fibrillation, and long-term patient management to prevent stroke and other heart diseases. The sensors and monitoring system will aid in delivering effective treatment and allow for data-driven disease management in associated long-term heart conditions. Led by Professor William Wyns and Dr Atif Shahzad from the Smart Sensors Laboratory, the team will extend its existing expertise and knowledge in the area of novel biosensors and AI driven connected health solutions to deliver on this multifaceted technology challenge.
Enterprise Ireland Distruptive Technologies Department Manager, Imelda Lambkin, extended congratulations to Professor Wyns and Dr Shahzad and AuriGen Medical, commenting: “I congratulate AuriGen Medical and their research partners in the Translational Medical Device and Smart Sensors Labs at NUI Galway on their success in the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund. Such collaboration between an NUI Galway spin-out company and its high quality academic research teams is exactly what we look for in this Fund, where we are focussed on developing game-changing technologies with the potential to disrupt markets. We look forward to supporting the team in achieving their global ambition of bringing novel cardiac implants to fruition.”
Dr Janusz Krawczyk and Professor Michael O’Dwyer will co-lead the DTIF project- Towards safe and effective off-the-shelf cellular therapy for cancer- which will see a collaboration between the Centre for Cell Manufacturing Ireland and ONK Therapeutics Ltd. The project will concentrate on the development of highly potent, safe, standardized, off the shelf therapy using modified Natural Killer cells. Natural killer cells, also known as NK cells, are a type of cytotoxic lymphocytes critical to the innate immune system. The modification with Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CAR-NK ) will improve their therapeutic efficacy. With the expertise and proprietary technologies of both partners within this consortium, they will develop modified NK cells that may be capable of tackling multiple types of cancer.
Professor Timothy O’Brien, Dean of the College of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway and Consultant Endocrinologist at Saolta University Healthcare Group acknowledges the key role of collaborations between NUI Galway and industry for medical advancement:
“Funding, like the Disruptive Technology Innovation Fund, makes it possible for innovative academic teams to partner with local indigenous industry to develop essential medical innovations. It provides the supportive environment for collaborative break-throughs. Galway has extraordinary talent and I look forward to the results of these complex projects,” he said.