Animation by UWE Bristol student will help to save lives

Issue date: 18 November 2011


Could a 40-second clay animation of a cartoon character with a hole in his side, designed and created in a student's bedroom in Bristol save thousands of lives?

UWE Bristol third year Animation student Hywel Roberts has created a short animated film featuring a character called TRAN MAN, that explains the benefits of a cheap drug called tranexamic acid which helps reduce clot breakdown. The animation will be promoted to doctors worldwide.

Hywel's uncle is a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Professor Roberts was disappointed that despite strong evidence from a large international clinical trial (The CRASH-2 trial) that tranexamic acid saves lives in bleeding accident victims, doctors in Britain and overseas were still not using the drug more than a year later. The CRASH-2 trial was published in the Lancet medical journal in March 2010 and showed that tranexamic acid could prevent thousands of accident victims from bleeding to death.

“We published two papers in The Lancet medical journal but we realised that not enough doctors in Brazil, China, Russia had read about it and that the treatment was not being used widely in hospitals - even in Britain only a fraction of the patients who could benefit were actually treated,” said Professor Ian Roberts, who co-ordinated the trial. “The drug companies, who can spend millions on marketing, could see the health gains but not the profit margins of a generic, off-patent drug. It was clear that if doctors were going to hear about tranexamic acid it was down to us to tell them.”

Professor Roberts discussed this with his nephew and they decided to create a short animation to disseminate the important new results by posting the film online. The film will be posted online today, just a few days before the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims (Sunday 20 November 2011), which highlights the devastation caused by road deaths and injuries around the world.

The animated video contains the key message for doctors featuring TRAN MAN, a 40 second animation of a bleeding car crash victim. The challenge was to help them quickly see the benefits of treating bleeding patients with tranexamic acid after road accidents or violence.

A medical voice over has been translated into Chinese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Japanese and English. The video is being posted on YouTube and Tudou, one of the largest video sharing websites in China.

Hywel Roberts said, “I was shocked when my uncle told me how many lives could be saved if more hospitals and doctors used tranexamic acid. I didn't realise how many obstacles there can be to patients getting the best treatment even after scientific research has provided the evidence. I enjoyed creating TRAN-MAN and hope he will help push things forward.

“The TRAN-MAN video is a stop motion animation using a clay puppet and filmed using a wooden rostrum. The flat character is not unlike a gingerbread man, and is animated on a white light box, with the blood added later on the computer using Photoshop. This was a challenging video to make – I had to get a complex message across in a very short time frame that would clearly communicate the benefits of tranexamic acid to doctors.”

John Parry, the UWE Bristol Animation lecturer who teaches Hywel, said, “By doing work like this whilst still at university students gain the confidence to manage, cost and produce similar work on graduation. They have an actual piece on their showreel, as well as their course development and fictional work, and they gain an advantage in their chosen field and an enhanced portfolio.”

The video can be found at http://youtu.be/pIoYJUf1uls

-ENDS-

Editor's notes

1. CRASH-2 was a large, randomised trial involving over 20,000 adult patients in 274 hospitals across 40 countries, and was funded by England's National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment programme.

2. TXA is an off-patent drug, manufactured by a number of different companies. The cost per gram is about £3 ($4.50).

3. For more information about the CRASH-2 trial and related publications visit: http://crash2.lshtm.ac.uk/

4. More information about the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims can be found on the Roadpeace website at: http://www.roadpeace.org/remembering/world_day_of_remembrance/

5. For information about Animation courses at UWE Bristol http://www1.uwe.ac.uk/cahe/ad/courses/subjectareas/animation.aspx

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