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Major Funding to Develop Sensor Technology

Major funding to develop sensor technology

Researchers from the Auckland Bioengineering Institute (ABI) have won $12 million to develop multi-purpose smart sensors that will give new insight into diseases such as heart failure and urinary function.

The ABI’s s Implantable Devices Group will use the funding from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Enterprise’s (MBIE) Endeavour Fund over five years to develop their sensor technology and apply it in two clinical fields: Firstly, for a pelvic floor strength and training tool to help women manage and reduce urinary incontinence; and secondly, for an implantable device for monitoring brain pressure in people with hydrocephalus (where spinal fluid accumulates inside the skull and puts pressure on the brain).

“Pressure inside our bodies is a fundamental physiological parameter that gives us insight into diseases such as heart failure, hypertension, urinary function, and recovery from trauma,” says Professor Simon Malpas, Principal Investigator.

“But it is hard to measure pressure inside the body. The biggest issue is that when pressure sensors are implanted, their readings gradually drift over time and the pressure they report is incorrect. We have developed the concept for a novel solution to this drift in readings, which we will prove in this programme.”

Dr Daniel McCormick, Associate Investigator, is developing ways of keeping sensors accurate over longer periods of time. “We are integrating an automatic re-calibration function that lets us – after sensor implantation – reset the pressure sensor on demand to restore accuracy and avoid the need for multiple surgeries.”

This new sensor technology also uses the University of Auckland’s world-leading inductive power transfer technology to transfer power into the body, overcoming the limited duration of implanted batteries.

“The integration of self-calibrating sensors will create an entire technology which is self-powered and reports data from inside the body to the outside, based on our team’s capability in wireless power technology, wireless communication and cloud data processing,” says Professor Malpas.

Four years ago the Implantable Devices Group received a $2million “Smart Ideas“ grant from MBIE to develop their wireless power technology to power a heart pump without needing a electrical lead to be inserted through the skin.

“The device we developed eliminates the key issue of infections resulting from the driveline passing through the skin,” says Professor Malpas. This device has now entered the product development stage in preparation for clinical trials.

MBIE

Impantable Devices

ENDS


Notes

Researchers Simon Malpas, David Budgett, Dan McCormick and Jenny Kruger were jointly awarded the MBIE Endeavour Fund Research Programme grant for their project titled “Smart sensing of physiology to grow the NZ Medtech industry” ($11,981,875 over 5 years).

The Auckland Bioengineering Implantable Devices’ Group, in partnership with Millar Inc, are also developing technology for measuring intracranial pressure and optogenetic stimulators for treating Parkinson’s disease.


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