Sufficient Funding is Vital for Medical Research to Deliver

October 2, 2018

Medical researchers are continuously forging new ground, reaching and exceeding goals that once seemed a long way off or even impossible. The rate at which discovery and medical advancement occurs is exponential. A primary goal of medical research is to extend the life and quality of life for the population. The challenge for researchers is gaining access to sufficient funding - which is vital to continue their excellent work - discovering new and innovative ways to make a real difference in people’s lives. With a variety of organisations vying for research funding from government agencies and industry bodies, the battle for medical devices to receive a fair proportion of funding is as keenly contested as ever. Why is Medical Research Important? Medical research contributes to the development of new treatments that can prevent diseases and help sick and injured people. Treating people requires knowledge of several biological, behavioural and social factors. Medical research allows physicians, doctors and medical professionals to gain a greater understanding into how our bodies work, why we become ill, what we can do to get better and how we can bounce back from injuries to live our lives to the fullest. Research has eradicated many conditions that were once life threatening however much work is still to be done. Research Funding in the US In the US the federal government plays a key role in funding medical research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH is a part of the Department of Health and Human Services and is made up of 27 different institutes and centres which have their own distinct manifesto. Each institute often focuses on a particular area of medicine. The funding provided through the NIH is invaluable for researchers throughout the US. Research Funding in Ireland In Ireland, where Trulife is headquartered, the Health Research Board (HRB) provides a significant amount of funding. In 2017, 115 funds were awarded to different research projects with some fantastic results - one such project related to addressing heart failure. Over 3,000 Irish patients benefited from this project that aimed to prevent heart failure and help to reduce hospital admissions by over 17,250 each year. Another big success story in Ireland was announced recently as Irish scientists made a big breakthrough in breast cancer research. A team at NUIG have identified a potential drug that reduces cancer and helps improve treatment through improving the effectiveness of the initial chemotherapy treatment and reducing relapse rates. This research project was co-funded by a number of organisations including the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), Irish Cancer Society and Horizon 2020. The SFI CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices also provides funding in Ireland and supports research into innovative smart medical devices that will be able to help patients with problems including cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, neural, soft tissue, renal and urology and respiratory health issues. EU Horizon 2020 Horizon 2020 is a big EU wide research programme that began in 2014 and runs through to 2020. Almost €80 billion was set aside for funding during this period and it has helped drive major breakthroughs and discoveries. Medical Device Firms Vie for Funding Medical Devices have an advantage in a number of areas when competing for funding in that there can be less rigorous FDA approval requirements for devices as opposed to drugs. There is also lower cost of trials, lower pricing and profitability of products. And there’s a more predictable influence of new technology due to a limited number of competitors. Medical devices manufacturers will need to continue to develop innovative products that can create positive change in people’s lives ensuring they continue to be top of mind when applying for funding. What is the Future of Medical Device Funding? Medical devices play an extremely important role in todays society as they greatly enhance the quality of life for the people that use them. In the US the FDA recently announced their Medical Device Safety Action Plan which aims to increase patients safety and drive innovation so that new products are safer, more effective and address the unmet needs of patients. The FDA is also planning on creating more efficient ways to bring new medical devices to the patients that need them, so we hope to see the level of investment continue and grow in the coming years to help achieve this goal. What Medical Device Areas are Likely to See Growth? Wearable medical devices are beginning to experience rapid growth. Lots of organisations, from leading technology firms to medical device manufacturers, have invested heavily in research in this area and are pushing the boundaries. High profile companies such as Apple have radically increased the level of interest in wearable devices and they describe their recently launched Apply Watch 4 as “an intelligent guardian for your health”. The device has a number of interesting health monitoring features….. It can alert the wearer of a prolonged elevated heart rate, spot low heart rates and also check for an irregular heart rhythm, notifying the wearer of a potential atrial fibrillation. Later in the year Apple will be releasing a new App for the Watch 4 that will be able to run an FDA-approved electrocardiogram (ECG) test. A study found that the smartwatch could accurately predict atrial fibrillation (AFib) over 98% of the time. Wearable device research is something that Trulife has also heavily invested in. Earlier this year we launched TruCare - A range of pressurecare that you can wear. The range is highly innovative and it represents a sea-change in pressurecare products. The complete Trucare range include 4 products: 1. Elbow 2. Wrist 3. Heel 4. Positioning Pad (universal use) The range has been created to add protection for the skin and to help prevent pressure injuries from occurring. This new TruCare range can greatly enhance patient’s lives by reducing the risk of injury. Trulife will continue to drive innovation as it achieves our ultimate goal - improving the life of the patient.

Across the globe medical researchers continue to forge new ground, meet and exceed targets that were once a long way off or seemed to be impossible. The pace at which discovery and medical advancement occurs is exponential. A primary goal of the work carried out by medical researchers is to extend the life and quality for people.

A significant challenge researchers face is getting access to sufficient funding – which plays a vital role enabling them to continue their fantastic work of discovering innovative new ways of making a big impact in people’s lives everywhere.

With a number of different organisations competing for research funding from the same pots of money, the battle for medical device companies to access a fair proportion of funding is as closely contested as it’s ever been.

What Makes Medical Research So Important?

Medical research is the main driver behind the development of important new treatments that can prevent disease and help people who are ill or injured. Providing the right treatment to patients requires the correct knowledge of a variety of biological, behavioural and social factors. Medical research enables doctors, physicians and medical professionals have a deeper understanding of how our bodies work, what makes us sick and most importantly what can be done to make us better and to live full and healthy lives.

Medical research has thankfully eradicated a significant number conditions that were at one point life threatening however, much work can still to be done to tackle current issues.

Medical Research Funds Available in Ireland

In Ireland, where Trulife is headquartered, the Health Research Board (HRB) provides a large amount of funding. In 2017, 115 funds were awarded to a variety of research projects that yielded some wonderful results. An example of this is a project related to tackling heart failure in people. More than 3,000 Irish patients benefited from this project which aimed to prevent heart failure and in doing so significantly reduce hospital admissions by over 17,000 per year.

Another excellent example of how funding is so important came through an announcement whereby Irish scientists had made a big breakthrough in breast cancer research.  A research team from NUIG found a drug that can potentially reduce cancer and improve treatment by increasing the level of effectiveness of the initial chemotherapy rounds and reducing relapse rates.

This particular research project was co-funded by a several bodies: Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), Irish Cancer Society & Horizon 2020.

The SFI CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices also provides a significant amount of funding in Ireland. They support research into innovative new smart medical devices that are able to help patients with problems including musculoskeletal, neural, cardiovascular, soft tissue, renal and urology and respiratory health problems.

EU Funding From Horizon 2020

Horizon 2020 is a very large EU wide research programme. It began back in 2014 and runs right through until 2020. Nearly €80 billion was set aside by the EU to provide research funding during this period and it has helped drive a number of significant major breakthroughs and discoveries.

US Funding

In the United States the government plays a key role in providing funding medical research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH is a part of the Department of Health and Human Services and is made up of 27 different institutes and centres which have their own unique manifesto. Each institute will often focus on one particular area of medicine or research.

The funding provided through the NIH is invaluable for medical researchers throughout the US.

Medical Device Manufacturers Vie for Funding

Medical Device organisations have a distinct advantage in a number of areas when competing for funding in that there is at times less rigorous FDA approval requirements for devices as opposed to drugs. There is also lower cost for trials, lower pricing and increased profitability of products. There is also a more predictable influence of new technology due to a limited number of competitors.

Medical devices manufacturers will need to continue developing ground-breaking innovative products that create a positive change in people’s lives to ensure they stay top of mind when applying for research funding.

What Lies Ahead for Medical Device Funding?

Medical devices play a pivotal role in the lives of millions of people as they greatly enhance the quality of life for that person. In the US the FDA has recently announced a Medical Device Safety Action Plan which aims to increase patients safety and drive forward innovation so that new products are safer, more effective and address the unmet needs of patients.

The FDA is also investigating more efficient ways that medical devices can reach the people who need them, so we are hoping that the level of investment continues to expand over the coming months and years to realise this goal.

Which Medical Device Areas Will See Growth?

Wearable medical devices are starting to go through rapid growth. Several leading technology companies and medical device manufacturers have invested heavily into research and development of wearable tech and continue push the boundaries.

High profile organisations such as Apple have radically increased the level of interest in wearable devices and describe their new Apply Watch 4 as “an intelligent guardian for your health”. Their latest device has a few interesting health monitoring features….. It is able alert the wearer of a prolonged elevated heart rate, spot low heart rates and check for an irregular heart rhythm, if found will notifying the wearer of a potential atrial fibrillation. Later in the year Apple will be releasing a new App for the Watch 4 that will be able to run an FDA-approved electrocardiogram (ECG) test. A recent study revealed that the smartwatch could accurately predict atrial fibrillation (AFib) more than 98% of the time.

Wearable device research is something that Trulife has also heavily invested in. Earlier on this year we launched TruCare – A range of pressurecare that you can wear. The range of pressurecare is extremely innovative and it represents a sea-change in pressurecare products.

The complete Trucare range include 4 products:

  1. Elbow
  2. Wrist
  3. Heel
  4. Positioning Pad (universal use)

The TruCare pressurecare range has been developed to add protection for the skin and to help prevent pressure injuries from occurring in the first place. This new TruCare range greatly enhances a patient’s lives by reducing the risk of injury.

Trulife will continue to drive innovation as it achieves our ultimate goal – improving the life of the patient.

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