Bedfordshire led research has potential to revolutionise healthcare treatments

SUFFERERS of heart and kidney diseases in the UK could soon have personal treatment plans as a result of research being undertaken at the University.

Having recently received European Commission funding worth some 420,000 Euros (about £352,000), the University's Centre for Computer Graphics and Visualisation (CCGV) started work on the CARRE project earlier this month.

The University of Bedfordshire's project partners include universities, hospitals and private sector organisations in the UK, Greece, Lithuania and Poland.

The research will investigate the effectiveness of patients receiving a more personalised treatment plan, based on their individual circumstances.

Two hospitals in Greece and Lithuania will run trials involving patients who suffer from heart and kidney diseases. Participants will be placed on a healthy lifestyle programme, which will encompass regular exercise and a sensible diet.

Dr Enjie Liu, from the University's CCGV department who is leading the Bedfordshire team, said: "Patients will be fitted with sensors collecting data on their activities during the trial, which will then be analysed at Bedfordshire.

"People react differently to different treatments and lifestyles, and we hope that this data will identify what course of action suits each individual best.

"An awareness of what will work best will allow each patient to take an active role in the care processes and share the decision making with medical professionals, which could lead to a better quality of life."

For NHS patients, the emphasis is still very much on the provider deciding the best course of treatment, but the CARRE project's findings has the potential  to change this.

Dr Liu added: "With personalised healthcare becoming more popular around the world, the NHS could adopt this strategy if we demonstrate over the next three years how effective our approach can be, particularly as it is likely to reduce healthcare costs."

The programme will also look at the link between heart and kidney diseases and how they affect one another.

Professor Gordon Clapworthy, Head of CCGV, said: "The University has a long history of health-related projects with European partners covering many forms of disease.

"Dr Liu's exciting new project will look particularly at patients who have both heart and kidney problems, as these complex cases have proved difficult to treat successfully in the past.

"The project comes at a time where healthcare systems, such as the NHS trying to maintain their levels of care in the face of financial cuts. We hope that CARRE will help to provide pointers to how this can be achieved."

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