Following a call for proposals across Luxembourg, four health technology projects were selected for funding in April 2022, and, in an impressive turn of events, each showcased a project lead from the Luxembourg Institute of Health. In addition to developing a novel device or digital health solution, the winning projects will use the funding to provide ground-breaking improvements in the treatment of autism, chronic respiratory diseases, Long-COVID and orthopaedic conditions.
In a first for the nation, a call for HealthTech projects was jointly launched by the Ministry of the Economy, the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) and Luxinnovation in April 2021. The joint call focused on projects that made use of digital tools and the power of data analysis to improve the prevention, diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of diseases. It was aimed at stimulating collaborative R&D projects in the form of public-private partnerships (PPPs) and to provide financial support to companies and research and healthcare organisations that collaborate to assess the relevance of a technology/product/healthcare solution, its technological advantages and benefits for human health. The selection process, which took place in two phases, covered 17 expressions of interest. Eight full proposals were submitted of which the Luxembourg Institute of Health emerged triumphant, with its involvement in the four projects selected for funding. The total budget for these four projects is estimated at 6.10 MEUR. An overall co-financing of some 4.5 MEUR comes from the Ministry of the Economy and the FNR, covering almost 75% of the total amount of the projects.
A collaboration with LuxAI and led by Dr Manon Gantenbein, Head of Clinical and Epidemiological Investigation Center of the LIH, focuses on the development and validation of a therapeutic device for in-home therapy of children with autism. QTrobot, is an expressive social robot designed to empower parents by providing an effective, scalable and affordable therapy for autistic children, delivered through a robot in an at-home setting. This novel approach has the potential to improve social, cognitive, language and communication developments in children with autism, as well as reduce autism symptomatology. Health benefits to the participant through QTrobot will be compared to standard of care and could in addition lead toconsiderable autism-related cost reductions to their families. The project is set to run for 30 months and will include the participation of five countries (Luxembourg, Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom).
Care4Asthma is a digital technology and deep immunophenotyping project led by Dr Christiane Hilger, Group Leader of Molecular and Translational Allergology group at the LIH, in a collaboration with the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg (CHL) and Meracle Health. The study aims at providing non-invasive and personalised solutions to asthma diagnosis and care, as well as improving administration and compliance to therapy. Indeed, by combining biomarker research with a digital and easy-to-use technology monitoring drug inhalation and quality of life of treated patients, the collaboration will optimize and personalize medical care for children with chronic respiratory diseases.
Dr Laurent Malisoux, group leader of the Physical Activity, Sport and Health group at the LIH, will instead lead the GAITORING project, in collaboration with the CHL and IEE. GAITORING, as the name suggests, aims to develop a digital health solution, that can monitor gait patterns and physical activity in patients with orthopaedic conditions (e.g. bone trauma, arthrosis or surgical procedures) in their daily living conditions, simultaneously helping clinicians and patients adjust their treatment to improve the recovery and avoid long-term consequences. This new digital health solution will provide healthcare professionals with important and relevant information on the progress of their patients in their natural environment by detailing aspects of both movement quality and quantity. The project will allow the team to validate the innovative system against current gold standards for gait-related applications as well as test the digital solution in a clinical setting, in order to bring this innovative solution to patient care in a near future.
In partnership with the ViewMind compagny, Magali Perquin, leader of the Neuroimaging group of the LIH, will drive forward the Digital Cognition (DigiCog) project, which aims at 1) validating, in the context of long-COVID, a novel digital device which can quickly evaluate cognitive functioning using eye movement patterns, and 2) exploring with additional tools the long-COVID impact on cognition. Indeed, it has been shown that COVID-19 symptomatology could persist more than 1 year after infection, as a chronic syndrome, causing extreme fatigue, pain, shortness of breath, and cardiovascular complications among others. Some patients have also reported headache, brain fog,or loss of memory, all factors that can significantly impair brain functioning.
DigiCog will offer a reliable and non-invasive tool to quickly screen cognition and related brain status, useful in primary care settings for example. The project will additionally provide crucial insights to understand the long-neuro-COVID.
Manon GantenbeinHead of Unit CIEC & CPMO, Clinical and Epidemiological Investigation Center
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