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Funding for heart and gut research

Funding for heart and gut research at Auckland Bioengineering Institute


Research into heart and gut disease at Auckland Bioengineering Institute (ABI) has received a significant boost with recent funding from the New Zealand Health Research Council (HRC).

A five-year research programme looking at the biomechanics of heart disease has been awarded $4,964,878, while two researchers from ABI’s Gastrointestinal Research Group have received HRC Emerging Researcher funding of $250,000 each to look at electrical abnormalities in the gut.

The heart team led by Professor Martyn Nash, Honorary Professor of Biomedical Engineering at ABI and in Engineering Science, is looking at biomechanical factors such as stiffness and stress which are known to have important influences on heart function, but are difficult to quantify.

Working with Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences’ researchers Professor Alistair Young, a medical imaging expert, and National Heart Foundation Professor of Heart Health, Rob Doughty, Professor Nash’s team will develop novel tools for robust evaluation of biomechanical factors in cardiac patients.

“The new knowledge from this programme will improve our understanding of the mechanisms of heart disease,” says ABI research fellow Dr Vicky Wang. “This will enable better targeting of treatment, leading to better outcomes for patients and reduced health care costs.”

Gut research at ABI also aims to improve outcomes for patients. Research Fellow, Dr Timothy Angeli is using his HRC Emerging Researcher grant to develop gastric ablation as a novel treatment for slow wave abnormalities. (Slow waves form part of underlying bio-electrical activity in the gut. Abnormal slow waves have been associated with major functional gastrointestinal disorders, such as gastroparesis, chronic unexplained nausea and vomiting, and functional dyspepsia.)

“Ablation is a technique to destroy specific regions of tissue to eliminate these electrical abnormalities,” says Angeli. “This holds great promise for delivering a new therapy for patients suffering from severe gastrointestinal disorders.”

Dr Niranchan Paskaranandavadivel is using his HRC Emerging Researcher grant to develop new high resolution experimental mapping techniques to investigate slow wave intervals.

“This research looks to advance gastrointestinal electrophysiology and has the potential to create new diagnostics and therapeutics for patients.”

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