Really clever gel to treat brain aneurysms wins DCU award

27 Apr 2017

From left: Robbie Sinnott, Adam Dalton, Richard Stokes (DCU’s director of innovation), Evan Darcy and Dr Owen Clarkin. Image: Nick Bradshaw

A clever gel solution to help treat brain aneurysms finished top of the class at DCU’s innovation awards.

Getting people to study science or technology is a necessity for innovation. Therefore, easy access to research is of the utmost importance.

This is probably why a DIY robotics kit that teaches children how to code, as well as a new research infrastructure database, were commended at DCU’s recent innovation awards.

Well, gel-o there

But with all the prep and management in place, we need inventions. For that, step forward Dr Owen Clarkin, with his minimally invasive gel to treat cerebral aneurysms taking the top prize.

A member of DCU’s School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Clarkin is the brains behind Enduragel.

Injected through a catheter, the hydrogel – made primarily of water, with a seaweed-derived polymer and microparticles making up the final 20pc – can be fed up small tubes towards where the aneurysms occur.

Once injected into the affected area, the gel hardens, closing the aneurysm. This prevents any blood getting through, as well as continued expansion.

Clarkin devised Enduragel after looking at the limited options currently available in this area. For example, a commonly used coil fails to fully fix the problem in many instances, with too much space around the aneurysm left unfilled.

The gel, then, solves that problem.

Clarkin and his team hope that this new technology will improve the clinical outcomes of patients with cerebral aneurysms, and allow doctors to treat the untreatable.


Prof Brian MacCraith, president of DCU, said the innovations put forward for the awards “highlight how enterprise and creativity are hardwired into the everyday activities of DCU students and staff”.

DCU first-year students Adam Dalton and Evan Darcy led the Robotify project, which was co-founded by January’s BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition winner, Shane Curran.

This DIY toolkit is aimed at parents who want to introduce their children to the world of coding, and at teachers who are interested in running their own coding course.

A third award, for admin fields, went to Robbie Sinnott’s Research Infrastructure Network, which provides a booking system for researchers.

Updated, 5.28pm, 27 April 2017: This article was updated to clarify the roles of the Robotify team members.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic