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Rapid blood platelet analysis: linking micro-capillary assays to novel digital microscopy and smartphone technology

Project Description

Blood clots allow us to recover from tissue injury. Platelets are small blood cells that prevent bleeding by clumping together to form clots. They play a vital role in cardiovascular disease, most obviously when clots form in the blood vessels of the heart or brain causing heart attacks or strokes. Platelets also play a broader role in infection and immunity (e.g. dengue, HIV, malaria), as well as cancer metastasis. Measuring platelet number, activity, or response to stimulation is therefore a vital tool for monitoring health and for diagnosis of various acute and chronic conditions.

This project will use advances in computing and image processing power available in modern smart phones, and the latest rapid prototyping techniques such as 3D printing, combined with a novel micro-capillary bioassay to develop simple, reliable, low-cost tests for monitoring platelet function. This will enable platelet measurements to be performed close to the patient, offering rapid results without central lab processing, expanding platelet testing to settings that don’t have access to the specialist equipment or expertise currently needed to run these test (e.g. developing countries or primary care in the UK).

As part of our on-going program we have developed a proof-of-principle prototype micro-capillary platelet function analyser (iCAP). The goals of this project are to expand the utility of the iCAP by understanding the fluid dynamics and platelet interactions within the capillaries, and to develop the imaging of the capillaries using low-costs 3D printable microscopes. This will widen the range of clinical test that can be performed with the iCAP, and will be vital for its diagnostic utility and uptake by healthcare systems. For further details please contact Chris Jones () or Al Edwards ().

Applicants should hold or expect to gain a minimum of a 2:1 Bachelor Degree or equivalent in Biomedical Engineering, Physics, Mathematics, Biological Sciences, or similar discipline. Commencing Autumn 2019 if successful.

Applicants need to be comfortable with developing skills including programming and mathematical modelling as well as an understanding of the underlying biological mechanisms.

Funding Notes

Due to restrictions on funding, this studentship is open to UK/EU students only.

Please note: EU applicants only qualify for a stipend if they have been resident in the UK for the 3 years leading up to the start of the PhD. If they have not, then they only qualify for fees-only support from the EPSRC DTP.

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