Image copyrightSPL
Image captionLoss of tissue in a demented brain compared with a healthy one

A neurosurgeon is working with oil and gas engineers to try to refine a robotic treatment technique.

Prof Steven Gill has launched a new medical procedure to inject drugs directly into a patient’s brain.

He believes offshore engineers who extract oil and gas from below the seabed could help him further develop the procedure.

He is due to discuss the project with experts at a meeting in Aberdeenshire on Thursday.

Prof Steven Gill
Image copyrightFunding Neuro
Image captionProf Gill believes techniques used in the offshore industry could be adapted for medical use

The treatment is being used in a bid to tackle neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, and brain tumours in children.

His technique involves attaching a series of micro-catheters to the skull.

‘More advanced’

Bristol-based Prof Gill said: “I had a chance conversation with a few oil and gas engineers.

“It became apparent during the conversation that there were similarities between the technologies being used for the extraction of oil and gas and the system I’ve developed to infuse drugs directly to a patient’s brain.

“Their methods are more advanced than mine and are on a completely different scale, but the principles are the same and I’m hoping our discussions can be extremely helpful for any future treatment advances and development of the CED (convection-enhanced delivery) system.”

The meeting will be held at the Thainstone House Hotel in Inverurie.

Progressive brain diseases

Image copyrightSPL
Image captionLoss of tissue in a demented brain compared with a healthy one
  • In Parkinson’s disease, nerve cells are gradually lost which leads to symptoms including tremor, stiff muscles and slow movement
  • Patients with Parkinson’s may also experience dementia
  • Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia where progressive brain cell loss leads to memory problems and a loss of mental ability

John Scrimgeour, executive director of Aberdeen Institute of Energy – part of the University of Aberdeen – said: “As a petroleum engineer I never thought I would be asked to be involved in medical research, but since arriving at the university I have learned that there are many exciting things that we can learn from medical and other disciplines.

“As an example of this, our academics are looking at how techniques used in medical laboratories can be harnessed for enhanced oil recovery.

“Prof Gill’s work in finding treatments for serious neurological conditions is highly innovative, and I’m very much looking forward to meeting with him and exploring how we can contribute to his research.”

Prof Gill and his team will commence work on a clinical trial treating children next year.

The trial is being financed by a £900,000 crowd funding drive launched by the charity Funding Neuro.


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