Nonwovens / Technical Textiles


Nonwoven innovation recognised with major healthcare and medical engineering award

NIRI team receiving the C2I Award (c) 2018 NIRI
Nonwovens Innovation & Research Institute (NIRI) has led a consortium of medical specialists to win the prestigious Collaborate to Innovate (C2I) Award for their ground-breaking Sanguis universal plasma project.

The Engineer C2I Awards, in partnership with EngineeringUK and EPSRC, recognise the very best in UK technology-led collaborations and innovations in engineering and the Healthcare and Medical Award celebrates collaborative innovations in this truly life-changing and hugely competitive field.

NIRI’s award-winning Sanguis universal plasma project combined textiles and chemistry innovation in a project that could transform transfusion services and help save lives. Currently, only blood group AB plasma can be given to anyone, but only four percent of the UK population has this blood type, meaning a constant pressure on supply, whether in hospital, emergency or military scenarios. 

Working in partnership with NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) and Macopharma, the Sanguis project has developed a process to remove ABO antibodies from donated human plasma, creating universal plasma which can be used to treat people of any blood type. Key to the process is a fabric-based immunoadsorption filter, developed and patented by NIRI. Dr Ross Ward, new business development manager at NIRI, explains,

“We use an artificial antigen bound to a nonwoven substrate. This artificial antigen is designed to bind the antibodies like a lock and key mechanism. The plasma runs through the filter, antibodies within the plasma are bound to the filter, resulting in a plasma with antibodies removed.”

With a global market value in excess of £350m for therapeutic plasma, the Sanguis universal plasma project envisages potential savings of £20m to the UK health service alone. Outside of the UK, and to encourage global penetration, NIRI and the consortium members currently plan to offer the filtration technology as an add-on, rather than integrated directly into blood collection sets, allowing it to be used with any type of blood pack, enabling global access, and work is now underway to scale up the nonwoven filter production process. Dr. Ward explains,

“Clinical testing, and being able to up-scale into an industrial process, is our current focus. By working in close collaboration with NHSBT and Macopharma we believe we have the right collaboration partners to ensure a regulatory approved commercialised product within the next five years.”

On winning the C2I Medical and Healthcare category, Dr. Ward comments,

“We are delighted that the Sanguis universal plasma project has been awarded this accolade, both for its potential impact within the medical sector and in recognition of innovation achieved through collaboration. Applying and commercialising scientific and technological research, this award is testament to the effectiveness of NIRI’s fundamental engineering approach to innovation and the benefit of effective collaboration with quality partners.”

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