Current Projects

iSolve 2014-15 Projects

Compass Mentis

Principal Investigators: Jason Chai, Tom Hughes

The Compass Mentis serves as a tool to prompt lateral thinking amongst clinicians when trying to generate ideas about differential diagnoses. It seeks to illustrate that three important components interact with each other in a dynamic manner resulting in a presenting problem. The device provides structure to thought and helps the clinician generate a thorough list of diagnoses.

The device is currently made with thick, laminated cardboard and comprises three separate pieces (now named ‘wheels’).  The team intends to develop the device using thin and durable plastic.  The three individual wheels are of different sizes and are connected at a centre point by a split pin and are easily rotated independently

The three individual wheels denote:

1.            Anatomical systems

2.            Pathological processes

3.            Patient factors

These three distinct components of a diagnosis, sometimes referred to respectively as Where?, What?, and Why?, are important aspects of diagnostic reasoning. The device acts as a framework or structure that provokes thought and stimulates lateral thinking.

The iSolve team will be tasked with scoping the market opportunities for a product of this kind including potential sales and distribution channels. The team will also be asked to consider potential production partners for manufacture at scale and to investigate commercial partnering opportunities pre- and post-launch.


Brain Train

Principal Investigator: David Linden

Advances in neuroimaging have led to a better knowledge of both mental dysfunction and potential compensatory mechanisms in patients. Major nodes of disordered neural networks are in deep regions of the brain, which makes them difficult to access by electroencephalography or transcranial stimulation. Neuroimaging techniques are therefore essential for the development of non-invasive neuromodulation techniques for mental and behavioural disorders. Real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) uses magnetic resonance imaging to measure brain activity, by detecting associated changes in blood flow which increases with neuronal activation. fMRI can be used for on-line-monitoring of brain function as well as for self-modulation of neural processes via interactive training. With the neurofeedback procedure, patients learn control over brain activity using real-time signals from their own brain.Through the development of fMRI-based neurofeedback techniques over the last decade, it is now possible to train patients in the self-regulation of the disordered networks and thus to obtain clinical benefits: improve diagnosis, restore function, alleviate symptoms and promote resilience.

The BRAINTRAIN project, a European consortium funded by the EC under the 7th framework programme ( has three four components :

– the development and refinement of methods for the real-time analysis and feedback of fMRI data and combination with other imaging modalities,

– the adaptation of fMRI mapping techniques to localise disease-relevant networks and development of protocols for their self-regulation through neurofeedback

– the assessment of feasibility and clinical effects in several mental, metabolic and neurological disorders (autism spectrum disorders, alcohol addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, childhood anxiety disorders, binge-eating disorder, obesity, depression)

– to explore the potential transfer of imaging feedback training into everyday settings through ambulatory and assistive technologies such as electroencephalography and near infrared-spectroscopy(NIRS) and gaming.

Finally BRAINTRAIN will engage with potential users of these technologies through several workshops, liaise with regulatory authorities and disseminate findings to the academic and user communities.

The iSolve team will be tasked with imagining and investigating clinical applications of neurofeedback, with a focus on fMRI-based neurofeedback. It will link in with the Cardiff component of BRAINTRAIN, which will focus on the use of neurofeedback for patients with alcohol dependence. The team will also be encouraged to look at integration of this (relatively expensive, lab-based) technology with cheaper, mobile technology (e.g. Smartphone). The iSolve team will be required to explore the commercial potential for the applications, including identification of markets and the best business model (e.g. spin-out, licensing or other models) for further development.


Time out for Cancer

Principal Investigator: Giusy Tornillo, Karen Reed

Time out for Cancer: turning a cancer biology lesson into a board game

Understanding how cancer begins and develops and why it can be so difficult to treat may require intense and tedious lessons of genetics and cell biology. Researchers at the European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute (ECSCRI) have developed a fun interactive educational board game, “Time out for Cancer”, which helps players understand more about how cancer grows and spreads around the body.

Briefly, players place and move their tokens (tumour pieces) on a gameboard (a human body) by following the instructions dictated by cards and dice. The final goal? To limit the spreading of tumour pieces across the board.

The game mechanics reflect the possible effects of environmental risk factors and mutations, as well as medical interventions, on tumour onset and progression. As result, the game provides an engaging and relaxed approach to raise cancer awareness amongst the players.

The current game prototype was created as part of a workshop for 15/16 year-old students, but has the potential to be developed for a broad range of audiences.

The iSolve team will be required to explore the commercial potential of the board game, whilst investigating the most appropriate markets and developing the best business model. They will also be tasked with costing and sourcing appropriate materials to develop all aspects of the board game. Furthermore, the iSolve team can offer alternative titles for the game and investigate their suitability and market impact.