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Pioneering research at Southampton nominated for national award

Published: 
10 June 2009

Two cutting-edge medical advances from the University of Southampton, which are now being used to help patients, have been nominated for a prestigious national award.

A smart stethoscope that monitors kidney stones, and a new therapy that could lead to better treatments for chronic diseases such as cancer, are in the final of the Unico Impact Awards.

Professor Tim Leighton, of the University’s Institute of Sound and Vibration Research designed the stethoscope in collaboration with staff at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and Precision Acoustics Ltd.

He said: “We are thrilled to be nominated for this award. It’s is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the work being done here at the University.”

The smart stethoscope allows medics to monitor the success of the surgical procedure to remove kidney stones.

Doctors currently use a device called a lithotriptor to send shock waves into the body and destroy the stones. A standard dose is given to each patient. After the procedure, a test detects if it has been successful or if further treatment is required.

The smart stethoscope allows medical professionals to end treatment as soon as the kidney stones are destroyed, saving the NHS thousands of pounds as it extends the life of expensive equipment. Plus, a more efficient operation reduces the risk of side effects for patients.

The second nomination is for the University’s School of Medicine, where researchers have identified new drugs that restore abnormal gene expression and have the potential to treat chronic diseases like cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. These drugs are now being developed by University spin-out company, Karus Therapeutics, which is planning its first human clinical trials in the coming months.

Researcher Professor Paul Townsend comments: “These drugs are clearly the best in their class – Karus has generated compelling data that these new drugs will have a dramatic impact on patient outcomes. The in vitro and disease model data so far shows that these drugs are significantly more potent and better tolerated than currently available treatments – this is a very positive step forward.”

The Unico Impact Awards assess at how successfully innovative research transfers to the commercial world. The winners will be announced tomorrow evening (Thursday, 11 June 2009).

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