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Early Successes At Christchurch Hospital

Syft Technologies Scores Early Successes At Christchurch Hospital

Press release, 4-April-06, Syft Technologies Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand: Within months of installing Syft Technologies’ LDI-2 research instrument at Christchurch Hospital, scientists are already achieving significant progress toward the speedy, breath-based diagnosis of life-threatening diseases.

In the first of a series of research successes, Syft Technologies has patented several biomarkers that scientists believe will aid in the early and non-invasive diagnosis of respiratory conditions, including asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). The biomarkers are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) on the breath which can indicate the presence of certain diseases.

Breath-based diagnosis of asthma or COPD would represent a significant improvement over conventional methods, which include invasive techniques such as bronchoscopy, a procedure in which a tiny camera is inserted into the lungs via the nose or mouth.

Now that the biomarkers have been defined, researchers from Syft Technologies are collaborating with doctors from the Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences on clinical trials involving hundreds of patients, a critical step in making the diagnostic test publicly available. The trials are expected to last anywhere from 6-18 months.

The basis for the research is the LDI-2, a modified version of the Syft Technologies flagship Voice100, which can instantaneously detect VOCs down to single-digit parts per billion from a sample of air or breath using the SIFT-MS technique. The machine is involved in a wide variety of research projects, including respiratory and renal disease, surgical procedures, microbiology and infectious diseases.

Jenny Scotter, Medical Projects Administrator at Syft Technologies, believes progress will continue to move forward quickly. “There is a strong scientific basis for working with these biomarkers, and our research so far has fully supported our hypotheses. This technology opens so many doors, and this just happened to be the first door we’ve opened.”

Renal Studies Also Making Progress

Scientists working with the LDI-2 have also made significant progress with research on renal disease, and are beginning clinical trials to determine the optimal length of time someone should receive dialysis.

Ensuring that dialysis is given for the correct duration will provide benefits for individual patients and the medical community as a whole. Undergoing treatment for longer than necessary can cause damage to blood cells. At the same time, an increasing demand on dialysis facilities requires optimal use of the machines.

At present, people on dialysis are monitored by blood tests on an intermittent basis, which means there is a certain amount of discretion when deciding the optimal length of each dialysis session and whether or not to continue treatment.

“The common objective of these studies is to make sure that people get the treatment they need, exactly when they need it,” says Geoff Peck, the Chief Executive Officer of Syft Technologies. “Our contribution to achieving that goal is in providing medical staff with real-time, laboratory grade analysis so they can make informed decisions.”

Researchers are expecting to make similar inroads with two additional studies. In the first, a representative group of approximately 100 patients that came into A&E with acute abdominal pain were tested with the LDI-2 to establish a method for the early and non-invasive diagnosis of appendicitis. The Nephrology department is also studying kidney transplant patients in an effort to distinguish between organ rejection and toxicity reactions to the drugs taken by transplant patients.

Laboratory test applications arouse international interest

SIFT-MS technology has also been applied successfully to the laboratory diagnosis of bacteremia, or bloodstream infections. This is a serious condition in which a speedy diagnosis and identification of the causative bacterium is crucial to optimal treatment and recovery. The high sensitivity and speed of analysis of Syft Technologies’ machine allows researchers to significantly shorten the time taken to detect these infections. Following publication of the scientific findings, talks are now underway with major international producers of diagnostic microbiology products and instrumentation.

Finally, doctors and scientists have used the Syft Technologies machine to determine the risk associated with surgical diathermy. The procedure, which heats tissue to create an incision or to stop bleeding, generates fumes that were thought to be a possible workplace hazard for operating theatre staff. Using the LDI-2, researchers found compounds that weren’t previously known to be present in diathermy fumes. However, they did confirm that medical workers in the operating theatre are safe from this risk: there is more harm in breathing vehicle emissions on the street than in working with surgical diathermy.

Syft installed the research instrument under the umbrella of a Research for Industry (RFI) grant from the Foundation for Research Science and Technology (FRST). The company was awarded $4.8 million over four years to further its research into breath-based non invasive diagnosis.

About Syft Technologies

Syft Technologies is a private enterprise formed out of Canterbury University, New Zealand in 2002 to commercialise SIFT-MS technology (Selected Ion Flow Tube Mass Spectrometry) – a scientific breakthrough previously confined to specialist research labs for identification of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

The company successfully honed the technique into an ingenious device called the Voice100 that can instantly and accurately identify trace level VOCs to a few parts per billion. For more information visit


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