Innovation vouchers kick-start global cancer initiative
- Published: Wednesday, 21 November 2018 16:40
- Written by Uni of Huddersfield
Case study by the University of Huddersfield
Chemotherapy-induced hair loss is widely recognised as one of the most traumatic side effects associated with cancer treatment. Paxman Coolers, a SME based in Huddersfield, manufacture scalp cooling devices to reduce hair loss in cancer patients during chemotherapy.
The origins of the partnership between Paxman and the University of Huddersfield are in a 2012 Kirklees Innovation Voucher - a joint initiative between the University and Kirklees Metropolitan Council. This project supported the initial investigation of the fundamental biology underpinning the selectively protective effect of cooling. Dr Nik Georgopoulos and Dr Andrew Collett, from the University of Huddersfield Department of Biological Sciences, have subsequently established the scientific basis for the ‘empirical’ clinically-observed success of scalp cooling in a high proportion of cases. These extensive and on-going scientific studies have played a pivotal role in securing regulatory and medical acceptance of the Paxman systems.
These studies have been funded by a variety of routes including a KTP which completed in 2015 and was judged as “Outstanding” by Innovate UK.
Expanding the relationship, Paxman worked with Product Design expert Dr Ertu Unvier, and colleagues within the School of Art, Design and Architecture utilised their expertise in computer aided design and 3D printing technology to develop a hugely improved, silicon cooling cap.
The cooling cap is the critical patient-device interface where excellent fit and comfort to drive efficacy and compliance must be managed within strict manufacturing-cost parameters. The improved cap, developed under a second KTP project which commenced in 2015, has yielded a more comfortable, more economical to manufacture cap. This has been recognised in various awards and accolades including Medilink Innovation Award (January 2016), and Medtec Innovation Accolade (December 2015).
The deep and interdisciplinary relationship between the University and Paxman continued to flourish. In the spring of 2017 it was announced that Paxman had been given official clearance by the Food and Drug Administration to enter the U.S. healthcare market – the largest in the world – after undergoing rigorous trials of its scalp cooling systems. The U.S. market breakthrough, with its potential for exponential growth at the company, was supported by the research developed by the well-established, multi-disciplinary research partnership with the University of Huddersfield.
This has earned regional awards, including the Yorkshire & Humber Healthcare Business Awards 2016 ‘Partnership with Academia Award’. More recently, Paxman Coolers has listed on the NASDAQ First North exchange at a value of in excess of £13M.
The research collaboration has helped Paxman to establish itself as the leader in its field. More than 2,500 cooling systems are installed in treatment centres around the world, with the prospect of huge expansion in the USA still to come.
Published: 21 November 2018
This article first appeared in the 2018 State of the Relationship report, commissioned by Research England and compiled and published by NCUB.