The world of innovation and academia collided in an extraordinary showcase at the Prototypes for Humanity exhibition in Dubai from November 28 to December 2, 2023.
A Trailblazer in Research
Prof. Helen Townley, an Associate Professor and William Dodd Research Fellow at the Nuffield Department of Women's & Reproductive Health at the University of Oxford, and senior visiting research fellow in the Department of Engineering Science has been at the forefront of cutting-edge research. Her work extends beyond academia, as evidenced by the translational nature of the research resulting in various patents and a spin-out company.
a Rising Star in Innovation
Ben Whites, a student under Prof. Townley's guidance, presented their collaborative project at the Prototypes for Humanity exhibition in Dubai. The project, "Radio Wave-Activated Chemotherapy," showcased the duo's commitment to exploring innovative solutions to healthcare challenges. Ben's charisma and the project's potential impact left a lasting impression, attracting a substantial amount of interest from the exhibition attendees.
Sarah Ward, University Relations at Prototypes for Humanity, expressed her delight at Ben's participation; "We were delighted that Benjamin was able to attend the showcase and share his project with the audience; he attracted a large amount of interest and his charisma, combined with the inventiveness and potential impact of his research greatly enhanced the event. It certainly looked like he was meeting a lot of interesting people."
Sarah has extended an invitation to Prof. Townley's students to participate in the 2024 showcase, and emphasised the additional workshops and roundtables with local and international investors and venture builders.
Fig above: Cell viability was assessed by delivering chemotherapy agents to cells in vitro. The NCC was used to deliver paclitaxel and vinblastine to (A) RD cells, and (B) U-87 MG cells
Advanced drug-release technology for targeted chemotherapy
Radio Wave-Activated Chemotherapy represents a significant advancement in targeted drug delivery with minimal tissue damage. It employs a method where drugs are released in response to radio waves. This is achieved by binding a thermoresponsive copolymer to superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs). When heated by radio waves, the SPIONs trigger the copolymer to change structure and release the drug. The process also includes fluorescent tagging for tracking, enabling precise localisation in situ or in vitro using a magnetic field. This innovative approach enables controlled, cyclical release of medication, offering a promising avenue for efficient and targeted chemotherapy treatments.
Find out more
A Proud Moment for the department
The "Radio Wave-Activated Chemotherapy" project was selected to feature in the 2023 edition of Prototypes for Humanity from nearly 3,000 applications. Sarah added "Benjamin’s project stood out in terms of the problem addressed and the solutions proposed."
About the Prototypes for Humanity exhibition
The 2023 Prototypes for Humanity activations in Dubai spanned key innovation hubs, including the Dubai Future Foundation and the COP28 program, where global leaders addressed critical issues. The event provided a platform for participants to engage with a diverse community of stakeholders, from patrons and academic peers to industry leaders, humanitarian agencies, and venture building experts.
The program focused on collaborative work across disciplines, aiming to accelerate research towards sustainability. Additionally, it highlighted how academic intellectual property (IP) can drive entrepreneurship ecosystems, leading to real-world solutions. The Prototypes for Humanity exhibition in Dubai showcased the convergence of academia and innovation, with Oxford University leaving a significant impact. Looking ahead to the 2024 showcase, the collaboration between academia and platforms like Prototypes for Humanity continues to pave the way for transformative solutions, shaping a better future.