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Research funded to transform IVF procedures

AUT research partner wins funding to transform IVF procedures

An Auckland company investigating a technique with the potential to transform the procedure of in-vitro fertilisation has been awarded $622,000 from Technology New Zealand's Technology for Business Growth Fund.

Kiwi Ingenuity Limited, a private company based on the campus of the Auckland University of Technology, was awarded the funding to continue its research into a project called KODE FEM (Fertility Enhancement Molecules).

A new technology that modifies the outside of embryos with molecules so they become sticky, KODE FEM is a kind of "embryo glue" that may improve the success of implanting an embryo.

While still in the discovery phase, the technology has the potential to transform the procedure of in-vitro fertilisation, says Professor Steve Henry, CEO of Kiwi Ingenuity and Director of AUT's Glycoscience Research Centre.

The grant, which is being matched dollar for dollar by shareholder funds, will bring the total level of funding for the project to more than $1.5 million. Additionally the company was also successful in obtaining two Technology New Zealand AUT PhD student scholarships to work on the 28-month project.

"The funding means that we can accelerate the research phase and commercial development," says Professor Henry.

A family of products related to the technology could be expected to be seen initially in the animal IVF market by 2007 and the human market several years after that.

Large commercial partners are currently being identified to collaborate with the clinical trials and to take the product to the market place.

Kiwi Ingenuity has a significant intellectual property portfolio based on a core technology break-through (KODE).

Professor Henry says that the funding is a good boost for the KODE FEM project, but it is important to realise the project is still in its early stages of development.

"The project is progressing very well and while we have made some important breakthroughs, any commercial application is still years down the track," he says.

Professor Henry will explain more about the research model of Kiwi Ingenuity, its relationship to AUT and current projects at his Professorial Lecture to be held on November 17 at AUT, lecture theatre WA 220, Cnr of Mayoral Drive and Wellesley St 5-6pm.

ENDS

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