The project developed by the MIT Portugal PhD Student at the University of Minho Carlos Gonçalves, was considered the most innovative of the 9 projects incubated during 10 weeks by Startup Nano, a pioneer incubation and acceleration program for nanotechnology innovation promoted by Startup Braga in a partnership with the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory and the Centre for Nanotechnology and Smart Materials (CeNTI) both located in Braga.
The active compression sleeve developed by the student during his PhD at Engineering Design and Advanced Manufacturing (EDAM) from MIT Portugal PhD Program at the University of Minho allow improving the treatment of upper limb lymphedema patients. This painful life time health condition is normal a consequence of breast cancer treatment and is characterized by a higher upper limb diameter due to the accumulation of lymph. Nowadays the treatment is done with upper limb drain massages and pressotherapy using inflated compression sleeves.
The active compression sleeve mimics the upper limb drain massages performed by occupational therapists with five compression stages seamless embedded into the elastic textile. The compression stages are activated sequentially, which allows creating a shock wave that brings the accumulated lymph to the lymphatic channels. The device is powered by a battery similar to a cell phone battery making the device portable. The portable feature allows using the active compression sleeve in daily routine tasks under usual clothes helping the treatment and avoiding a bionic stigma.
This PhD project is a partnership between the University of Minho, the CeNTI Centre and the MIT and is currently under a national licensing process. According to the researcher "we are working on the necessary procedures for a European patent and already thinking in a European commercialization of the project". Regarding the plans for the future and the importance of this distinction the researcher adds that “this award is certainly one way to leverage the project however, to ensure its development and commercialization we need more investment, which is one of the main goals in the short/medium term".
The 2nd place of this 2nd Edition of Startup Nano was won by a microfiltration project against dust and pathogens and the third prize to a bioreactor that allows a tighter control of cell culture conditions. The pre-selection process took place in October and among all applications only 9 projects were selected for the incubation phase.