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Cash award for cancer detection device

A device using light to detect, diagnose and monitor cancer is one step closer, with news of a cash award for two St Andrews scientists.

The Scottish Enterprise funding will help develop ‘ground- breaking’ research into technology which will produce more effective screening techniques for the disease.

Dr Mike MacDonald and Professor Kishan Dholakia have been awarded the funding through the Proof of Concept Fund, which supports leading-edge technologies in Scotland’s academic institutions, and aims to help export innovation from the lab into ground-breaking Scottish businesses.

The researchers, both from the University’s School of Physics and Astronomy, have been awarded funding to develop a piece of equipment which can be used to sort and analyse biological matter, such as cells, in a non- invasive way using optical sorting techniques. The optical sorting machine has the potential to be a low-cost ‘lab on a chip’ device for use in hospitals. Its wide range of ability – potentially from the macro-molecular scale upwards – is not presently available from any existing machine in the marketplace.

They said: “Non-invasive techniques for analysing biological matter are key to clinicians and bio-researchers, yet the availability of such equipment providing this ability remains well below demand.”

“The technology we are developing has a relatively simple approach which will allow it to be integrated into existing laboratory equipment – such as microscopes – found in any research or large hospital laboratory.”

The St Andrews’ scientists are part of 26 commercially-focused research projects benefiting from £4.6m of support from the internationally-acclaimed Proof of Concept Fund backed by Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Executive.

The awards, announced yesterday (Thursday 1st July 2004) by Deputy Enterprise Minister Lewis Macdonald, will be shared between nine universities, a college of art, a research institute and a NHS establishment.

On announcing the awards, Deputy Enterprise Minister Lewis Macdonald said: “Today is a celebration of Scottish innovation at its very best. The global potential of each of today’s winning projects is huge and the economic returns we can expect as a nation are significant.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS:

For further information about the projects, please contact Professor Kishan Dholakia on 01334 463184 or kd1@st-andrews.ac.uk or Dr Mike MacDonald on 01334 463165 or mpm4@st-andrews.ac.uk

About The Proof of Concept Fund

The Proof of Concept Fund was launched by the Scottish Executive and implemented by Scottish Enterprise in 1999 as a three year 11m fund – but its success led to this being extended to a 33m fund over six years.

It awards grants to assist the pre- commercialisation of leading-edge technologies emerging from Scotland’s universities, research institutes and NHS Trusts. Its goal is to help researchers take their ideas and inventions out of the lab and develop them commercially into ground-breaking Scottish businesses.

Further information on the projects supported by the Fund can be found at http://scottish- enterprise.com/proofofconceptfund

Issued by Beattie Media On behalf of the University of St Andrews Contact Gayle Cook on 01334 467227, mobile 07900 050103, or email gec3@st-andrews.ac.uk Ref: POC 2004 Awards release 010704.doc View the latest University news at http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk

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