RESEARCHERS from a North-East university have joined a team which has just been given £3.8m to help develop a next generation medical device to monitor lung disease.

The research is aimed at developing new healthcare technologies that could revolutionise how lung disease are investigated, diagnosed and treated.

Durham University’s Department of Physics and Biophysical Sciences Institute has joined the team working on the project, which has been led by the University of Edinburgh since it started four years ago, for the next phase.

Known as the Proteus project, launched in 2013, it has involved the creation of a range of chemical probes to detect the presence of diseases in the lungs.

The probes can rapidly and accurately diagnose bacterial infections, helping to ensure patients are given appropriate treatments.

The team has also devised cutting edge light sensing technologies, including a camera that can detect sources of light inside the body to enable doctors to track medical tools used in minimally invasive procedures.

The next phases involved researchers trying to further develop the technology for clinical use, using advanced light sensors to diagnose disease, develop new world-leading technology and accelerate commercial translation.

Professor John Girkin, the Durham University lead investigator, said: “I am very pleased to become a full member of the Proteus project where we can take the Durham expertise in optical imaging through to a practical healthcare application.”

Professor Mark Bradley, Director of Proteus from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Chemistry, said: “This investment will allow us to push the technology into multiple new areas of application. It will also enable us to develop project sustainability and support staff development and independence.

“As part of the project, we are investing in a unique facility that will allow the rapid bench-to-bedside transfer of the project’s technology.”

The £3.8m has been awarded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), which has backed the project since 2013, to continue to support the research for the next five years.

The project had an initial investment of £9.5 from the scientifica research council.

Proteus is led by the University of Edinburgh in collaboration with the University of Bath and Heriot Watt University.