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iCASE projects (October 2018 entry)

Project 1


Fundamental properties and functional plasticity of a spinal dorsal horn circuit and its role in neuropathic pain

Warwick supervisor: Prof. David Spanswick (d dot c dot spanswick at warwick dot ac dot uk)

Industry partner: Neurosolutions Ltd

Industry supervisor: Dr Andrew Whyment

Chronic pain has been described as “like a silent epidemic”, affecting an overwhelming number of people. Current therapies are inadequate, in part reflecting our lack of understanding of the mechanisms underlying chronic pain. Here we will work in collaboration with NeuroSolutions Ltd to characterise a distinct group of nerve cells in the spinal cord: identify the mechanisms that regulate their electrical excitability, the chemical messengers they produce and their role in modulating pain, in particular neuropathic pain states. Through an understanding of the role of these nerves and the factors that regulate their function, we aim to design new, improved therapeutic approaches to treat neuropathic pain.

Project 2


New prognostic and diagnostic tools to assess and monitor traumatic brain injury

Warwick supervisor: Prof. Nicholas Dale (n dot e dot dale at warwick dot ac dot uk)

Industry partner: Sarissa Biomedical Ltd

Industry supervisors: Prof. Chris Imray (University Hospitals of Coventry and Warwickshire and Dr Everard Mascarenhas, Sarissa Biomedical Ltd)

Over 1.4 million patients attend hospital suffering from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) annually, and UHCW is one of the busiest trauma centres in the UK. Risk scores are often used as a way of predicting a patient’s chances of survival after injury. This is important information for clinicians, patients and family in the immediate setting. However, for patients who survive, there is a need for a score that predicts a patient’s recovery, and how much rehabilitation and support they might need after discharge. This project has been designed to look at novel specific measures of brain metabolism, damage and recovery to develop a new recovery prediction model following TBI. The collaboration between UHCW and Sarissa will provide a unique opportunity to validate and research the applicability of cutting-edge markers of brain injury, ultimately leading to information to improve patient care, and help clinicians care for patients with TBI.