Novel Approaches to the treatment of Raynaud’s phenomenon (The Academic Perspective)

Student: Danny Clegg
Company: Tonus Elast
Academic Supervisor: Pete McCarthy & Andrew Heusch

The Road to KESS

At the Clinical Technology and Diagnostics Research Unit in the University of South Wales, we are known for testing vibrating white finger and the way that the hands and fingers shut down and we’ve been doing work in this area for quite some time. We were approached by Tonus (the company partner on this particular KESS project) who asked us about the possibility of developing a better glove to help with the condition. Nobody had actually looked at the science behind the gloves, so what we did was to look at the question and the best way it could be answered.

Unfortunately the first time we applied for a KESS project we were not successful, when we resubmitted our application the following year, it was so heavily led by the company that we were successful in being allocated a place.

The Project

The KESS project essentially looked at the provision of a better glove; the problem with most gloves is that they tend to be randomly made up of the materials available at that time. There are some very good glove materials available on the market, but consideration needs to be taken when looking at the combinations and the creations of the gloves.

We started with a mini KESS, an MRes, and the company were so happy with the outcome of the first year, they asked if it would be possible to continue the excellent work; luckily for us there was both capacity and flexibility within the programme to facilitate that.

The good thing about the project is that we’ve been able to look at 2-3 other issues which we needed to do, which ensured that we doing the right thing. One of those issues was to look at the way people with white finger syndrome are tested.

As part of the KESS project we looked to generate a test which is less destructive and better for the patient/subject, while at the same time giving us the same information so we have that aspect, which means that the people/the end user will be benefitting. The project has created a test bed that we can use, and created a good link with the Raynaud’s and Scleroderma association who are the main beneficiaries to some extent. It’s tested and produced a methodology to test gloves and from that we have managed to get the data in.

The Students Development

Danny Clegg our student on this project has been proactive since day one in his engagement with the programme, the company and the additional opportunities that KESS provides.

Danny visited the parent company in Latvia early on in the project so that he would be able to see the manufacturing processes available. He played a big role in the beginning with trying to integrate within the company. The UK base of the company is essentially a start-up that runs a number of different elements simultaneously.

Within the University Danny has participated at all levels, giving talks about the KESS programme along with post-graduate programmes, which is excellent for us as a small Unit.

Danny had found places like Bangor University and he’s gone out of his way to go and find things for himself; something I try to encourage. He is developing himself; even though he is a mature student and generally knows what he’s doing. Danny is also a trained chiropractor, which has helped him support teaching statistics and supervise some undergraduate research.

One of the things that Danny has seen with KESS is this ability for cross fertilisation, the opportunity to meet with other people in a similar situation, which has helped Danny enormously, he is part of a bigger team.

Further Research Opportunities

We applied for and were successful in being awarded a CIRP grant; with the CIRP grant we had an extension to investigate a different type of stimulation method, with magnetic fields. The company that led on the KESS led on the first part because they were interested in a heated glove. Everyone who has been involved with the CIRP has also been involved with the KESS at some point; it’s been a great inter-funded collaborative working arrangement. We started off with 3 companies and now we’ve got 6 or 7; they themselves are forming a network that help each other, so there is a bit of interplay going on there, which can only be good for the economy.

Additionality to the Local Economy

The person who runs the company has his fingers in a number of different pies, product wise and in other areas. He’s been very helpful on the back of what we’re doing, and we’ve also helped him come in contact with other companies locally an example of this is a company based in Pontardulais that make baby carriers; on a previous grant with Swansea Met I’d come in contact with these guys and done a bit of work with them to look at the baby carrier bio-mechanics. I told Chris (company partner) about this and introduced them; he’s since introduced their product lines to a new market and their sales have increased as a result of that. There are little things like that; from my point of view I’m happy to see because it strengthens the economy. When you get a chance to introduce people and companies, you are building up capability and increasing infrastructure; in addition, people want to work with you again, which is very useful.


KESS has definitely raised Danny above everybody else in his profession, and with his PhD, doors will open for him: he can teach, he can research or be clinically active, that’s a big bonus these days. The KESS programme is giving Danny the time to become one of the leaders of the future which is a brilliant opportunity.