MedTech CoRE launches

Press Release – MedTech

Medical Technologies CoRE launches in Auckland The Medical Technologies Centre of Research Excellence (MedTech CoRE) was formally launched in Auckland on Friday 30 October by the Minister for Science & Innovation Steven Joyce.

Hosted by the University of Auckland, with funding from the Tertiary Education Commission, the MedTech CoRE is a consortium of researchers from Auckland University of Technology, Callaghan Innovation, the Universities of Auckland, Canterbury and Otago, and Victoria University of Wellington who are working together to deliver a single point of contact for New Zealand’s medical technology research.

MedTech CoRE director Distinguished Professor Peter Hunter says the collaboration will have far reaching impacts on the New Zealand economy as well as in terms of medical treatments in the future.

“The MedTech CoRE provides New Zealand with a tremendous opportunity to take a leading role in our emerging medical technology field. Already a number of New Zealand companies are starting to make their mark on the sector and our role is to assist them where we can in terms of research and development.”

At the launch research projects from the CoRE were showcased.

A team led by Dr Jason Turuwhenua in Auckland is working on a device to assess visual function in children as young as two years old. Jason and his team hope to create a way of measuring vision problems when the patient may not have the language skills or patience to undergo traditional tests using charts and the like.

“Testing vision in kids is a challenge but we hope to be able to test for issues like amblyopia [lazy eye] far earlier than is currently available.”

The earlier the diagnosis the better the results in correcting such problems.

The second team, led by Dr Peng Du from the University of Auckland, aims to transform the way gastrointestinal arrhythmia is diagnosed. Peng and his team are working on a way of recording the bioelectrical activity of the gut using a series of electrodes and advanced software to analyse the results.

The MedTech CoRE is supporting Dr Du as he sets up a company, FlexiMap Limited, to bring the recording and analytical techniques in this sector to market.

The third project is the brainchild of Callaghan Innovation’s Marcus King. Earlier in the year, Callaghan Innovation initiated the concept for virtual reality training for those people who are new to wheelchair use.

In conjunction with the Burwood Spinal rehabilitation unit and industry partners Envivo and Stickmen Media, a simulator was developed that allows trainees to learn how to drive their wheelchairs in a virtual environment. The CoRE has since provided funding to help with clinical validation.

The virtual simulator was so successful that Stickmen Media are now taking it to market.

Stickmen Media chief executive Brook Waters says for people leaving hospital with spinal injuries, the transition to using a power wheelchair can be a difficult – and dangerous – learning curve.

“Their lives are different, their bodies are different, they are looking at the world from a different angle, and they actually tend to do themselves – and their homes – quite a bit of damage when they get out”.

The MedTech CoRE wants to showcase how new technologies can be used in health applications and how the sector can help grow New Zealand’s economy as well as helping patients achieve better outcomes.


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