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Cohort H Projects

On this page you will find details of all of the projects that we currently supporting on Cohort H of the Midlands ICURe programme 2021 / 2022

If you would like to make contact with any of the cohort or have any questions for them, please do contact us via email :

or by phone: 07385 083391

Scott Clarke

We aim to deliver fast, high-quality image enhancement for every digital device, irrespective of its size.

Even if you’re not aware of it, image upscaling and image denoising happen in the background when you stream movies and when you snap and view photos on a smartphone. The demand for upscaling is also gathering momentum in the video game industry, as it is currently the only means by which we can realize high-fidelity graphics at 4K/ 8K resolutions and high framerates. Upscaling on video games is relatively new and is therefore only available to some games when played on desktop using the latest generations of graphics card from some manufacturers. Microsoft (Xbox) and Sony (PlayStation) report that they intend to implement game upscaling on the latest generations of console. Crucially, current products for upscaling and denoising struggle to balance quality of image enhancement against compute speed and computational demand, as well as battery constraints for mobile devices.

We have developed a game-changing solution for upscaling and denoising that can deliver superior-quality at fast compute speeds whilst using significantly less processing power and battery power. Simply put, we developed a win-win solution for upscaling and denoising, that can be used on any digital device, irrespective of its size.

Frederico Diez

Approximately 500 million dogs are kept as pets across the world and many suffer from genetic disorders which currently cannot be readily diagnosed. This means many companion animals receive symptomatic treatment for presumptively diagnosed illnesses, leading to suboptimal patient outcomes and exposure to medication which may not be helpful in managing underlying metabolic defects.

In contrast to the human sector, the veterinary profession remains poorly served with state-of-the-art genomic diagnostics due to low availability and high cost. The veterinary diagnostic market is estimated to be worth over $5 billion in the next 5 years with further growth expected. Using out unique bioinformatics variant calling and clinical interpretation, we can achieve high coverage sequencing (>30X) from DNA gathered by buccal swabs. This has taken us closer to a precise genetic diagnosis in a number of cases. As a result our clinical and genomic research ecosystem provides a wraparound sample sequencing approach which puts us in a unique position to investigate the development and roll out of novel point of care diagnostic tests for the veterinary sector.

Annie Godara

Our novel idea is to make state of the art research-based cricket coaching accessible and affordable to all. We have developed a mobile based platform that can automate the process of cricket bowling analysis and coaching which Loughborough University (LU) is renowned for. The process consists of three steps; 1) A bowling action is recorded in high-speed video format on the mobile app, 2) The 3D body coordinates of the player and key objects and events such as the ball and ball release are determined using AI and 3) Instantaneous technique analysis of joint angles and ball speed is performed and compared to elite optimum performance. Individualised evidence-based feedback is then provided to the user with recommendations and a tailored training plan to improve performance and minimise injury risk. The platform is centered on LU’s 20-year research experience within cricket fast bowling. The accessibility of this product has the potential to attract a vast array of users, from children playing cricket recreationally through to professional athletes, coaches, personal trainers and PE teachers. The foundation of this product is identifying and quantifying the critical human movement patterns for a successful performance. This can be adapted to other sports and non-sport related activities, such as workplace manual handling or clinical situations such as recovery from illness or injury.

La Ma

Reactive Fusion (RF) is a disruptive Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing method based on the principle of infiltrating a deposited layer of polymer powder with a reactive fluid. The fluid contains monomers/oligomers which chemically bond the deposited particles together, creating a homogenous material deposition. It exploits inkjet based technology’s processing speed, whilst increasing material properties/ variety.

Specifically, polyurethane and polyurea are high value engineering polymers that are widely used in sectors such as aerospace, automotive, processing industry, consumer goods and electronics. Historically, these materials has been attempted using other AM/3DP techniques to produce customized medical devices as well as consumer products. However, they are not readily processible by existing AM systems and require complex processing at high temperatures that leads to decomposition of unused powder and produce parts of variable quality. Excitingly, through Reactive Fusion, different types of Polyurethane/polyurea can also be integrated into a single part or product providing spatial control of properties as needed. The RF process also happens in mild conditions and minimising thermal decomposition of unused powders and therefore material waste. RF cannot be carried out on existing commercial AM/3DP equipment and will require the development of a new machine that would be based on standard powder bed architecture with environmental control/print head management.

Mohammed Inayatullah

TNBC is the most aggressive subtype of breast cancer given its higher chemoresistance and metastasis rate which contribute to its poor clinical outcome. While chemotherapy is effective in some TNBC patients, nearly half of them develop resistance to chemotherapy, leading to poor overall survival. Predicting which patients will achieve pathological complete response i.e. chemo-sensitive (pCR) or residual disease i.e. chemo-resistance (RD) upfront have emerged as an attractive treatment strategy for precision medicine and has shown promising results for a better clinical outcome in many cancers. Several gene signatures for predicting chemotherapy response have been commercialised for ER-positive breast cancers such as Oncotype DX, Endopredict, Breast cancer index, but no such clinical panel is available to guide treatment decision for deadly TNBC.

We have developed multi-gene panel (20 genes) which can predict with over 90% accuracy whether patients will respond to chemotherapy (pCR) or develops resistance (RD) against chemotherapy in TNBC. Additionally, our multi-gene panel is equally effective in predictive chemotherapy response in more aggressive disease stage such as lymph-node positive TNBC tumors. Predicting which patients will have pCR or RD will provide better opportunity to clinician’s to improve or consider alternative treatment plan and prevent unnecessary treatments and toxicity in TNBC. In summary, our gene panel will have a major impact on the clinical outcome in TNBC patients.

Adam Price

The accurate detection of ions in solution is critical across a number of fields including point-of-care diagnostics; industrial quality control; and food safety and security. Biosensing is a huge growing market in the healthcare sector valued at $22.4 billion in 2020.

A major obstacle with current ion sensing technology is the ability to immobilise sensors within materials which can be integrated into devices for real-time sample monitoring. Current methods of doing this rely on chemical modification of the sensor, which impacts the selectivity and sensitivity of the system. This modification requires additional time and cost and is required for each individual system. Attempts to immobilise the sensor directly within materials are unsuccessful due to rapid leaching and instability.

In response to the expanding market, and lack of suitable technologies, we have developed a versatile hydrogel material that overcomes these drawbacks. Our hydrogel can incorporate a range of commercially available sensors via a bespoke double encapsulation method. We have demonstrated minimal leaching of the sensor over extended time periods of up to 3 months alongside a rapid and reliable optical read-out signal.

The materials are flexible and have easily tuneable dimensions. They can be used in a variety of devices, including microfluidics. Our materials can monitor multiple analytes simultaneously and are capable of reversible sensing, They can also be re-used for real-time monitoring.

Wiktoria Ratajczak

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of mortality worldwide and places a major financial burden on healthcare systems. Northern Ireland alone spends an estimated £412M on CVD-related healthcare costs.

The chronic inflammatory condition atherosclerosis underlies most CVD and is characterised by thickening of blood vessel walls due to fatty deposits (cholesterol), which can interrupt blood flow. Current treatment options include medications to control blood pressure (ACE inhibitors) or cholesterol (statins), and lifestyle changes; however, these interventions are often insufficient to stop the progression of CVD as they are not disease modifying. Furthermore, long-term use of some statins increases the risk of developing diabetes which also leads to worse CVD outcomes. Therefore, there is growing interest in immuno-based therapies to effectively target inflammation and reduce atherosclerosis progression.

We have identified a protein responsible for regulating inflammation and cell survival that is defective in models of cardiometabolic disease including diabetes and CVD. The protein has two druggable receptors, which are upregulated in cardiometabolic diseases and are thought to mediate the disease process. Targeting these receptors using our novel bispecific antibody reduces inflammation in cardiometabolic states preventing atherosclerosis progression. Accordingly, this should lower the morbidity and mortality associated with CVD and alleviate the burden on head

Alexander Sieberath

The development of new 3D in vitro models for bone diseases is hampered by the lack of bone-like surface coatings for substrates, which allow to the effective differentiation of osteoblast and osteoclast-like cells. Available calcium phosphate coated products on the market offer only poor viability and attachment bone cells and therefore are limited for the set up for bone in vitro models. The developed coating aims to close this gap. Substrates of any shape can be coated and hence be functionalised to be used in bone tissue engineering applications. The advantageous surface properties of the coating boost cell viability and proliferation and thus cellular performance while offering a natural bone-like microenvironment.

Jeaniffer Yap

Tuberculosis is a very potent and transmissible respiratory infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria. This bacteria is able to survive the immune system and even replicate within our white blood cells, hiding from detection by our immune response. This white blood cell in particular is called macrophages. The current treatment for tuberculosis consists of a cocktail of antibiotics which are not very effective in targeting the source of the bacteria, which results in a long antibiotic regime (6-9 months) and side effects from the drug toxicity. Having a nanoparticle which can deliver the drugs directly inside the macrophages where the bacteria grow can drastically improve the efficacy of treatment, thus shorten the length of the treatment regime and eliminate the side effects.

We have developed a nanoparticle which carry a sugar derivative called Mannose. Mannose acts as a targeting agent that will selectively binds with the receptors on the macrophages. These nanoparticle will encapsulate several synergistic tuberculosis drugs that has currently been approved for treatment. Moreover, our nanoparticle is designed to be biodegradable, where it will safely be removed from the body after releasing its cargo.

These nanoparticles will be administered via intranasal droplets or can also be in the form of spray (water based) to target the infected macrophages in the lungs. This method can potentially be adapted for blood-brain barrier applications in the future.

Bin Zhu

Residual stresses almost always remain in an object after manufacturing, e.g., welding processing, additive manufacturing, composite and bio-inspired materials. They can be detrimental or beneficial to the manufacture and performance of engineering components. Inspection of residual stress is necessary for complex industrial material systems, as undesirable residual stresses can cause premature catastrophic failure of critical components.

Our novel idea is a test-simulation platform for systematically evaluating cross-scale residual stress (from millimetre to micrometre) with high precision. This ‘Realm’ platform could benefit multiple engineering industries to visualise the impact of residual stress that ultimately can revolutionise the lifespan extension of the materials and components. It would also benefit material manufacturers for innovative design protocols to intentionally induce beneficial compressive residual stress and reduce the detrimental tensile residual stress for structural integrity.

The platform will be a package including the hardware, software, plus consultancy service. The hardware and software are to do the robust multiscale time-resolved residual stress measurement. Our platform will use stable real-time data interpretation and advanced simulation tools to further develop the complex material system. Our technology is used by UKAEA to develop the new protocol for designing material systems, which will trigger a bigger market in the future.