University signs deal over lung treatment

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FRENCH medical device maker Mauna Kea Technologies has signed a deal to turn Scottish scientific research into a new way to diagnose lung diseases in seriously ill patients.

Edinburgh University has developed “smartprobes” which are placed in a patient’s lungs and then give off fluorescent light, allowing doctors to build up a picture of what is going on inside the body.

Paris-listed Mauna Kea Technologies hopes to bring the technique together with its Cellvizio machine, which inserts a probe to let doctors see inside a patient’s lung.

If the project is successful then researchers say it will give medics new ways of diagnosing diseases.

Kev Dhaliwal, clinical lecturer in respiratory medicine at Edinburgh University’s Centre for Inflammation Research, said: “The initial focus will be in patients with life-threatening inflammatory lung disease in intensive care.”

The partnership with Mauna Kea Technologies will also include work with Utah University in the United States, which has been working with the French company since 2009 to develop its devices.

The deal is the latest in a series of agreements brokered by Edinburgh BioQuarter, the body set up by NHS Lothian and Scottish Enterprise to commercialise research. It follows on from contracts signed with Belgian biotechnology outfit Galapagos in June to work on anti-cancer drugs and Sweden-based Galecto Biotech in October to work on fibrosis.

The BioQuarter’s most high-profile agreement to date was signed in October 2011 with GlaxoSmith­Kline, the UK’s biggest pharmaceuticals company, which is focusing on developing medicines to treat acute pancreatitis.