The drug-free approach for managing menopausal hot flushes.

Hear the words ‘hot flush’ and most people make the association with menopausal women. However, hot flushes can also be experienced by a wider group of women and men, including those undergoing hormonal therapy for medical conditions such as breast and prostate cancer. Hot flushes can occur at any time, day or night, and are yet another symptom that individuals need to manage, at what is already a highly stressful time in their lives.

At Cambridge Consultants we have been working on developing the technology for a range of ‘drug-free’ consumer cooling devices that have the potential to help people cope better with this symptom.

The initial focus for our work has been the female menopause, but we believe that our work could also benefit other sufferers. 

For example, we have been considering prostate cancer patients (a group that we have been working with on other projects).

Prostate cell growth is stimulated by testosterone, and so treatments such as androgen deprivation therapy are widely used to reduce levels of the hormone or block its actions in the body to help treat the disease. It is believed that about 70%-80% of men who receive androgen deprivation therapy experience hot flushes.

Hormone balance is critical to temperature regulation in the body. Changes in their levels are picked up in the body’s thermal control centre in the brain, which it is thought react by sending out nerve signals that trigger the hot flushes.

The Cool Device

Our devices work by providing a rapid cooling ‘shock’ to the nervous system. We target locations around the body where temperature monitoring neurones are present in high densities. The medical theory we have exploited is that a sudden surge in ‘cold’ messages resets the brain into switching off the nerve signals creating the hot flush.

To date we have developed technology demonstrators of two of the concept products – a bedside or desk-based unit and a small discrete portable handheld unit. Initial trials of the units carried out earlier this year at joint workshops held with the National Innovation Centre for Ageing, have shown very positive results.

Our devices create the cooling effect by the application of stored refrigerant onto a cooling surface within the device. The approach is unique in the market, where current systems either use expensive electronics, based on the Peltier effect and require regular recharging, or rely on spraying coolant directly onto the skin which can be conspicuous and damage the skin.

We’ve taken this work to the prototype stage to prove the concept, and we’re now actively looking for companies who’d be interested in commercialising this concept, we can work with you and bring the development capabilities to make this happen!

This work is just one example of Cambridge Consultants drive to help improve people’s lifelong health and wellbeing. We invest in staying at the cutting edge of innovation and technology and are actively working on many client projects that use technology to bring health and wellbeing benefits to users.

Nicola Millar
Programme Manager

Nicola manages multi-disciplinary engineering teams with a focus on consumer products. She has a personal interest in promoting Lifelong Health.