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Medical Breakthrough For New Zealand Company

9 May 2002

Clever technology that has its origins in the dairy industry is showing promise in the medical arena, helping surgeons make informed assessments during liver operations.

Auckland developer and manufacturing company Keam Holdem has developed the country’s first automatic measurement technology for the fat content in liver. It is now undergoing clinical trials at Auckland Hospital through the University of Auckland’s School of Medicine, with results expected later this year.

Designed to provide a highly accurate measure of fat content during liver operations and transplants, its accuracy supersedes subjective visual assessments and assists surgeons to ensure the liver is in viable condition.

According to Dr Richard Keam, accurate measurement of the liver fat content during an operation means surgeons know how much of the organ needs to be left to be viable. It also helps assess the quality of donor livers.

Keam Holdem received significant research funding from Technology New Zealand, through its TBG Scheme to develop the system. Dr Richard Keam says the application is a progression from the company’s expertise in microwave technology to measure moisture in cheese and butter during processing, developed with Fonterra and the New Zealand Dairy Research Institute.

“We already had measurement technology, so we looked at how we could translate it into a medical field, and add automation to make the surgeon’s job easier,” he says.

Dr Keam says the niche is a new one for the company, which is actively looking for potential partners to ease its way into the large US market.

“It’s a good first step in a new market and we can see more potential for microwave technology in a biomedical field – perhaps even refining it for the holy grail of breast tumour detection,” says Dr Keam.

-ends-

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