Gut Health Network researcher, Dr Sara Miller, leads a newly funded project ‘Diagnosis by light: An endoscopic probe for biopsy-free diagnosis of gastrointestinal diseases’
The proposal was awarded NZ$999,999 over 3 years from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Endeavour Funda.
The research team comprises:
Dr Sara Miller (Chemistry, University of Otago and Dodd-Walls Centre)
Dr Cushla McGoverin (Physics, University of Auckland and Dodd-Walls Centre)
Dr Frederique Vanholsbeeck (Physics, University of Auckland and Dodd-Walls Centre)
Prof. Michael Schultz (Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago),
Prof. Keith Gordon (Chemistry, University of Otago and Dodd-Walls Centre)
Gastrointestinal health is an increasing point of focus in the New Zealand healthcare system, as evidenced by the recent implementation of the National Bowel Screening Program. Endoscopes are an invaluable tool in the gastronenterologist toolbox. Endoscope-based diagnoses of gastrointestinal illness currently rely on the visual inspection of the gastrointestinal tract surface or from microscopic assessment of removed tissue samples. Our Smart Idea is to accessorise current endoscopic technology to enable point-of-care diagnosis of gastrointestinal illnesses, removing the need for blind biopsy collection. We will combine lasers, fibre optics, the study of light-matter interactions, and machine learning with clinical knowledge to develop new technology which will objectively diagnose gastrointestinal illness. The team developing this new technology is inter-disciplinary (chemists, physicist, information science and clinician) and inter-generational (early career to experienced). Hence, this project will benefit New Zealand not only through the revenue generated by the sales of this device, and the impact it will make to health outcomes, but also to the development of New Zealand’s knowledge economy. The sophisticated diagnostic tool developed in this Smart Idea will benefit the hauora of Maori, though improved health outcomes due to earlier treatment of gastrointestinal illnesses.