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Early Warning For Kidney Failure Possible

12 July 2005

Syft Technology Could Provide Early Warning For Kidney Failure At Christchurch Hospital

Press release, 11-July-05, Syft Technologies Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand: Syft Technologies has provided the Christchurch Hospital with a new doctor, one that is hoped to safely, easily and instantly diagnose a range of diseases from Campylobacter to asthma.

This doctor is a little unusual, however; he weighs 400kgs and moves around on wheels. Meet the LDI2: a machine that can almost instantaneously tell its operator the chemical composition of a sample of air.

Developed by Christchurch-based Syft Technologies, the LDI2 is a research specific instrument from the same stable as Syft's flagship product , the Voice100. The machine will be used in a series of research initiatives, all of which hold exciting promise for the ability to provide faster, more accurate and less invasive diagnoses.

By detecting Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs, in minute quantities, the machine can help doctors find the chemical markers that indicate certain types of sickness.

The potential range of uses for the LDI2 is staggering. Using a simple breath test, researchers hope to be able to spot conditions and illnesses that historically required invasive measures such as blood tests or even surgery to diagnose. Areas under study include respiratory and renal disease, surgical procedures, microbiology and infectious diseases.

Dr. Randall Allardyce, Syft's Chief Coordinator of Medical Projects and a researcher at the Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences, says, "The ability to track chemical markers on the breath or in the small intestine, for example, will provide us with an opportunity to initiate treatment at an early stage, when we have a much greater chance of success. All of the diseases we are studying release volatile chemicals; the problem was that, until now, we had no effective and efficient way of analysing trace amounts of those chemicals for diagnostic purposes."

One area in which researchers are looking for the LDI2 to make a significant impact is in Intensive Care. Breath monitoring of patients in the ICU could alert doctors to life-threatening kidney failure in real time. At present, doctors are only able to determine that a patient's kidneys have failed when it's too late.

"Right now, patients in the ICU have the benefit of continual monitoring of their cardiac and respiratory functions, online and in real time. Given that kidney failure in the ICU is associated with a death rate of 40-80%, we need to be able to track kidney function with the same precision and timeliness," says Dr. Geoff Shaw, lead investigator for the Intensive Care aspect of the LDI2 projects.

The LDI2 could also be used to diagnose pancreatic cancer from a simple endoscopy. Currently, the only method available to diagnose pancreatic cancer consists of a dangerous operation that carries a high mortality rate - something that patients who don't actually have pancreatic cancer would clearly prefer to avoid.

Geoff Peck, the Chief Operating Officer of Syft, says, "The ability to fully explore the potential of the SIFT-MS technology in a hospital setting presents a unique opportunity for us to further develop our product offerings to the lab analysis and medical diagnostic markets. The potential benefits for the medical industry are enormous; of course, the real winners here will be the patients."

Syft has installed the machine under the umbrella of a Research for Industry (RFI) grant from the Foundation for Research Science and Technology. 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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