ITL Group Links With King’s College London On Cancer Imaging Project
Innovative medical device contractor ITL Group has partnered with King’s College London (KCL) to develop a ground-breaking cancer imaging project.
The project, FORCE, funded by the EU Horizon 2020 scheme, brings a consortium of 16 partners, including research centres, universities and hospitals across Europe. These partners are working alongside technology giants Phillips and Siemens, to exploit developments in engineering to Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to develop Magnetic Resonance Force Imaging (MRForce) for new applications in cancer diagnostics.
The project aims to address a fundamental need in planning and monitoring of cancer treatment by allowing better identification and sizing of cancer tumours.
Joining the pioneering project:
ITL Group joined the consortium in ITL Group joined the consortium in 2016 as a medical device design, development and manufacturing partner, becoming active in 2017 once earlier elements of the project had been completed.
Re-imagining MRI for new applications could provide a non-invasive way to diagnose and measure cancer tumours. This project will produce three prototypes developed for use on brain, liver and breast cancer patients.
ITL Group, with 40 years of industry experience, will further develop KCL’s initial hardware design, and manufacture several prototypes, which will be presented to Harvard Medical School this summer. The hardware is an advanced vibration transducer which functions by creating vibrations that, imaged in the MRI, can support the clinicians to gauge the interstitial fluid pressure and cell traction forces within a lesion, two indicators of response to therapy and of the metastatic potential of a cancer.
An innovative way of working:
The global company, with operations in UK, US and China, has taken the original three vibration transducers through a rigorous development process to improve on the initial concept.
King’s provided ITL with an initial design and brief; to make the device smaller and more compact, more patient friendly, easier to handle and with improved performance and efficiency.
ITL has made significant headway in improving the technology that can guide treatment choices in breast, liver and brain cancer patients, with prototypes ready for trials in mid-2017.
ITL Mechanical Engineer, Dan Hollands, is leading the project, taking dual roles as Project Manager and Head Engineer.
For the project, ITL has been trialling a state-of-the-art 3D printer to open up the possibilities of development and experimentation. As the transducer will be used in a MRI scanner it’s necessary that all components are plastic and not magnetic, therefore it lends itself to the 3D printing process.
Reflecting on the project, Dan Hollands said,
“This has been a very creative project for us and we’ve received great feedback from King’s on our progress – they’ve been impressed by the advances we have made so far, especially considering the short timeframe.”
“We’ve had a lot of freedom to develop the product and push the boundaries with experimentation - being both R&D and manufacturer means we can be more radical with design and test in-house before implementing changes.”
“3D printing has played a big part in the development – we’ve been able to design and print parts, then assess, test and redevelop all in a matter of weeks.”
“Although the MRI technology is well established, this application is ground-breaking and opens up a host of possibilities for diagnostics. ITL is honoured to be part of this scheme and contribute to a potentially life –saving project.”
Stefan Hoelzl from King’s College London commented:
“We are excited to work with ITL on this innovative project. We are putting our efforts and our expertise together, and we believe that our collaboration is leading to achieve better results.”
Pushing design to the limit:
Unlike commercial projects ITL has completed over the past 40 years, this grant gives ITL free reign to experiment and innovate. Essentially the design and development process can continue to the capacity of the grant – giving Dan Hollands time to push the design to its limits.
Over the year’s ITL has collaborated with a host of leading universities in the UK.
We look forward to sharing more updates from the H2020 project - follow us on twitter @IntTechLtd for the latest news and developments.