Innovation & Research

Epigem has a strong track record of innovation and product development, utilising a combination of in-house research, collaboration with academia and participation in many grant-funded projects working with partners across the UK and Europe. With this mix of approaches we have been able to work closely with leaders in our field in both industry and academia, helping us to drive forward the development of our products. Over the past years we have establshed and protected novel IP relating the both the microfuidic and microcircuitry products.

Epigem has a well-developed network of partners; we support a number of PhD studentships in UK universities in the area of microfludics, and through our Marie Slodowska-Curie are part of an active European network of young researchers.

Our continuing participation in UK- and EU-funded research projects has enabled us to stretch the boundaries of our product lines and to develop innovative approaches to the underlying technologies. Over recent years these projects have enabled us to strengthen our competetancies in the bio-medical area and to move into the development of instrumentation in this field

Details of some of our projects are given below.

AIMRAR (2019-): An integrated microfluidic – single cell Raman technology for rapid diagnosis of pathogens and their antibiotic resistance

Our most recent project, which started at the beginning of 2019, is to address the issue of antibiotic resistance. The project has been funded by Innovate UK as one of a number of ‘UK-China partnerships against antimicrobial resistance’. Epigem is working with Glasgow and Oxford Universities in the UK, and a number of clinical partners in China, to develop a microfluidics-driven test that will incorporate advanced Raman spectroscopy to characterise antimicrobial resistance.

KTP ‘IMPEL’ (2017-19):

In this Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Northumbria University our KTP Associate, Dr Pep Canyelles Pericas (who was based with Epigem at Redcar) worked closely with several of the University departments to develop a Surface Acosutic Wave (SAW) based PCR testing instrument. Initial protocols were developed for the identification of paratuberculosis (Johnes disease) in cattle. On completion the project was given the highest possible rating by an independent government assessor.

RELEVANCE (2016-2019): Regulation of red cell life-span, erythropoiesis, survival, senescence and clearance

Epigem’s Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellow, Niamh Kilcawley, worked as part of an international consortium of academic research centres, diagnostic labs, blood supply centres, and small industries that combines basic and translational research to improve prognostic, diagnostic and therapeutic approaches on erythrocytes and during erythropoiesis.

CoMMiTMenT (2013-18): Combined Molecular Microscopy for Therapy and Personalised Medication in Rare Anaemia Treatments

The CoMMiTMent project was a major pan-European collaboration, funded under the EU’s FP7-HEALTH programme, having the aim of developing non-invasive methodologies for for the exploration, diagnosis and development of therapeutic interventions for several rare anaemias, including hereditary xerocytosis, overhydrated hereditary stomatocytosis, familial pseudohyperkaliemia, cryohydrocytosis, certain types of spherocytosis, hereditary spherocytosis, sickle cell anaemia, thalassemia and phosphofructokinase deficiency. The approach used was based on combined imaging technologies based on optofluidic microscopy and scanning ion conductance microscopy.

Epigem’s role in the consortium was to design and manufacture microfluidic devices for the partners to test. One outcome pf the project was a novel prototype instrument combinings microfluidics and microscopy to examine the morphology of red blood cells. This insttrument is being further developed in the linked RELEVANCE project.

Milked / MIMIC (2013-17):

SYMPHONY (2013-17): Integrated SYsteM based on PHOtonic Microresonators and Microfluidic Components for rapid detectioN of toxins in milk and dairY products

Epigem was a member of a 7 partner consortium funded under the EU FP7 framework in this project to improve the quality and safety of milk. A key target was the prevention of a potent carcinogen, Aflatoxin M1, and its precursor Aflatoxin B1 entering the dairy and dairy products. Epigem’s role was to produce a new semi-disposable microfluidic module for sample pre-treatment and analysis.