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The University of Sussex

 23 November 2001 

University of Sussex collaborates with award-winning company on medical research

A company at the forefront of medical research was named last night (22 November) as the winner of the University / Business Partnership Award in the 2001 Sussex Business Awards.

Now in its 13th year, the award is sponsored by the Universities of Sussex and Brighton and is given for the most effective partnership between a business and a higher education institution in Sussex.

This years' winner is Biocompatibles, a Surrey-based biotechnology company that specialises in the development and manufacture of medical devices such as contact lenses and heart implants. These devices utilise synthetic materials based upon chemical structures found in human cell membranes to reduce adverse reactions with the body's immune system.

"It's been a very successful inter-university and academic-industrial collaboration," says Steve Armes, Professor of Polymer Science at the University of Sussex. Prof Armes has been working with both Biocompatibles and a group led by Professor Andrew Lloyd at the University of Brighton on new types of so-called 'biocompatible polymers' that could potentially be used to administer drugs - such as those to combat cancer - more effectively.

A joint patent application was filed last month by Biocompatibles and Sussex for an improved process for making these polymers (long chain-like molecules). Sussex student Emma Furlong (nee Lobb), now a teacher at Lancing College, first discovered this process as part of her DPhil, which was part-funded by Biocompatibles. Iris Ma, a post-doctoral student in CPES, is continuing Emma's work.

"In five to ten years, this method could be used commercially," says Prof Armes, whose work on polymers has many other applications from space science to improved paint and agrochemicals.

Prof Armes will be talking about his research in his Professorial Lecture on Tuesday 4 December at 6.30pm in the Chichester Lecture Theatre, University of Sussex. The lecture is free and is open to all.

 Notes for editors 

For further information, please contact Peter Simmons or Jacqui Bealing, University of Sussex, Tel. 01273 678888, Fax 01273 877456, email or

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