SINGAPORE - Balloons are not just about fun and games. They can help save lives too.
Imagine a drug-delivering balloon that can help alleviate blood clots formed in the arteries below the knees.
This innovation may soon become a reality with a new collaboration between Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the National Healthcare Group (NHG) to improve patient care.
Such a medical device may help diabetics to prevent a condition that often lead to gangrene, which could require amputation of the foot in severe cases, said NTU and NHG.
More similar medical innovations are set to come from this collaboration, with $500,000 seed money set aside to fund 10 medical research projects over two years.
The first joint project is expected to kick off this November.
The agreement was signed at Tan Tock Seng Hospital by NTU's Dean of the College of Engineering, Professor Janie Fouke, and NHG's CEO, Professor Chee Yam Cheng.
The scale and complexity of research today means that clinicians, scientists and engineers have to search beyond the confines of their own areas and seek inter-disciplinary models to solve biomedical challenges.
This may result in new medical devices, clinical practices and streamlining of processes.
Prof Fouke said this joint initiative is timely, given that NTU's Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine will be ready by 2013.
The new medical school can take advantage of NTU's strengths in engineering and business to produce highly rated clinicians and create an impact in healthcare innovation and the system as a whole.
Prof Chee said while it is not possible to create such an environment overnight, a step-by-step approach with strong management support from NTU and NHG is essential to its realisation.
"The potential for medical innovation and improvement in healthcare delivery is immense especially in the areas of diagnostics, therapeutics and medical devices," he added.
NHG and NTU will jointly set up a review committee to assess research proposals and award the research projects
This article was first published in The New Paper.