Mar 19, 2018 - A New Zealand company has created a world-first artificial intelligence (AI) medical platform for medical researchers and clinicians to create AI to auto-diagnose a large range of diseases based on a single photograph.
A Callaghan Innovation fact-finding mission next week to the world’s largest life sciences campus is part of a strategy to elevate the burgeoning New Zealand medical technology sector onto the global stage. Mike Brown, co-founder of wearable bladder sensor start-up Uri-Go, will be among a group of New Zealand innovators heading to the world’s most significant medical technology complex for the first time.
Feb 12, 2018 - The demand for portable operating departments to ease hospital surgical strain is growing substantially, Mobile Health chief executive Mark Eager says. Over the Christmas break, Mobile Health’s surgical bus unit was busy working in Auckland at the Counties District Health Board as an extra theatre helping them to get through their elective surgery lists, Eager says.
Biomedical Services NZ Ltd shared approach offers model also to wider public administrative IT projects
Jan 16, 2018 - Biomedical Services New Zealand is an enduring example of a public sector enterprise offshoot that shares premium resources and brings scale to the application of skills that are always in short supply. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Wairarapa District Health Board which is responsible for the Masterton Hospital.
Dec 13, 2017 - The national surgical bus, possibly the only one of its type in the world, is looking for a significant change next year to keep up with demands and with high technology. Mobile Health chief executive Mark Eager says they are assessing cutting-edge new technologies with portable and modular healthcare facilities to help district health boards cope when they are under pressure and to assist in smaller towns and rural areas.
“We are making substantial bright new changes next year but also continuing with our mobile surgical bus all over New Zealand,” Eager says.
“We will be introducing an online interactive learning system and we will also be helping a nationwide stocktake of telehealth and all the facilities for the benefit of all Kiwis.
“We are probably the only mobile surgical bus in the world. There are others that are on the road for months at a time. There is one container truck that looks like a food delivery truck in Ecuador which works for a few months a year.
“But ours it unique in the way that we operate. It is an amazing concept and a great way of sharing an expensive resource. What we do saves $2 million a year in each town on capital costs, if they had to build a similar facility from scratch.
“The bus is getting a new look over Christmas. So, we are excited for Kiwis who need the service next year. Mobile Health will also be working with health organisations to bring another Health Hub to Fieldays 2018.
“Our annual rural nurses meeting will be staged in May. This is a great opportunity for rural nurses to expand their knowledge and catch up with one another.
“This year we had our first education session via video conferencing with nurses on the Chatham Islands. We will continue to look at remote locations to bring to help our rural health development.”
New Zealand’s mobile surgical bus marked its 15-year anniversary earlier this year after more than 21,300 operations in 24 towns.
The mobile operating theatre marked its first day of surgery at Te Puia Springs, 100km north of Gisborne back on March 8, 2002.
An independent health consultants report has found up to 300 patients annually would probably miss out on surgery if was not for the mobile surgical unit, with its state-of-the-art surgical operating theatre. The bus receives $4 million annually from the Ministry of Health.
The bus runs on a five-week rotation system around New Zealand, carrying out operations at Kaikohe, Dargaville, Warkworth, Pukekohe, Te Puia, Wairoa, Taumarunui, Waipukurau, Taihape, Hawera, Levin, Dannevirke, Kapiti, Featherston, Takaka, Motueka, Buller, Waikari, Rangiora, Oamaru, Clyde, Queenstown, Balclutha and Gore.
“The reason why the bus exists is to deliver care closer to home which is in line with the government policy. It also helps with recruitment and retention of health professionals in rural towns. We provide low risk day surgery in rural communities that don’t have local access to full operating theatres.
“Patients are referred by their doctor to their district health board which places them on the surgical bus operating list. The bus delivers surgeries such as general surgery, children’s general anaesthetic dental, gynaecology, colonoscopy and minor orthopaedic operations.
“The clinical team is made up of five teams, with a charge nurse, an anaesthetic tech and a driver on a five-week schedule. Each day they’re joined by an anaesthetist, surgeon and four nursing staff from the local town.”
| A Mobile Health release || December 13, 2017 |||
Nov 30, 2017 - (BusinessDesk) - BioNona, which markets skin treatment creams developed by biochemist and chief executive Iona Weir, says it has gained US Food and Drug Administration approval for its Atopis eczema cream treatment, giving it access to a market worth as much as US$6 billion.
It marks the first such FDA approval for a New Zealand-developed over-the-counter (OTC) pharmaceutical skincare cream and is a culmination of more than 30 years of research and pharmaceutical development by Auckland scientist Weir, whose other projects have included the kiwifruit-based Phloe laxative product produced by Vital Foods Processors, where Weir was chief scientific officer until 2014.
Weir said the US market for OTC eczema creams amounts to about US$2 billion, or one-third of the total market. BioNona plans to sell online via Amazon on its eczema treatments page which only allows FDA-approved products. She said in the US about 50 percent of OTC sales now occur online through approved USFDA outlets such as Amazon.
"I suspect it will be our biggest product, though consumers use the eczema cream and then buy the other products," she said. "So it is more of a lead product that draws consumers in."
The Atopis eczema cream is already for sale but to date has been marketed as Dry Itchy Skin Relief Cream. The FDA approval means they can be re-branded as an eczema treatment. BioNona plans to seek FDA approval for its acne-prone skin care next, Weir said.
According to BioNona's website, Atopis contains myriphytase, a patented novel compound "developed for use in the treatment of eczema, psoriasis and acne." Myriphytaseis is created through a patented process called Peptilization, which "fuses together plant, bacterial and insect components."
The work grew out of Weir's Ph.D. in 1997 on programmed cell death in plants known as apoptosis. Her research showed apoptosis in plants was reversible, unlike in animals, and she was able to extract "critical reactions" in plants that could be put in a cream as a topical application for skin conditions in humans, such as eczema and acne. The extract encourages the body's immune response to attack affected areas and repair damaged cells, she told the International Conference on Clinical and Experimental Dermatology in Chicago last year.
The acne cream also contains the myriphytase extract "but it has gone through a different enzymatic fermentation reaction so that it has the bioactive properties required to treat acne," she said today.
Weir has a holding of about 33 percent in Decima Health, which owns the patents and did the research. Decima, in turn, owns 75 percent of BioNona, which was set up to handle manufacturing and distribution.
The company's chair is Paul Dallimore, who also owns about a third of Decima and was the original angel investor in the business, having been given a sample of the cream by Weir which he tried on a grandchild. Dallimore was the founder of National Property Trust and is chair of the Highgate Group.
Weir said the company hopes to have the eczema cream on sale to US consumers from the start of February next year.
Weir won an international award for her original Ph.D. and was able to continue her research with a grant from the Marsden Fund. A grant from Callaghan Innovation helped fund the double blind placebo controlled clinical trial completed by Southern Clinical Trials Group at the end of 2015.
(BusinessDesk receives funding to help cover the commercialisation of innovation from Callaghan Innovation.)
Nov 28, 2017 - Alliance Group is investing almost $800,000 in a new blood processing room at its Mataura plant in Southland to help meet the growing demand from the pharmaceutical industry.
The new facility at the plant will collect and process adult bovine blood into serum for blood products, which are used in the development of vaccines, cancer treatments, and drugs to treat neurodegenerative, haematological and endocrine disorders.
Demand from the pharmaceutical industry for New Zealand blood products has increased significantly due to the country’s disease-free status and world-leading agricultural systems.
David Surveyor, chief executive of Alliance Group, said blood products can create value for the co-operative’s shareholders.
“Our strategy is maximising revenue, diversifying our products and strengthening our market channels.
“This investment is another example of how we are developing opportunities to capture more market value for our shareholders.”
Nov 20 2017 -- A major technological breakthrough by a Kiwi company makes it simple for New Zealanders to be tested for vitamin C blood levels. Newly released data from a University of Otago study shows more than two thirds of Kiwis over 50 are low in vitamin C, more than one in 10 severely so. The Otago researchers say it is time blood is routinely checked for vitamin C levels, as it is now for cholesterol and iron. Vitamin C deficiency can lead to scurvy and other illnesses.
To date, existing technology using a blood sample extracted in a laboratory is only available in some parts of the country and not often utilised.
That is why Auckland company Feedback Research Limited spent five years developing its Feedback C Meter, a more accessible, easier point of care test for vitamin C.
CEO for Feedback Research Jackson Perry says the company believes its patented test for vitamin C is a world first. The company hopes to market the Kiwi-developed product locally next year and worldwide within two years.
Mr Perry is confident the finger prick test would allow vitamin C testing to become as commonly used as blood glucose or cholesterol finger prick tests.
“We are very close to the finish line, and the last piece of the puzzle is finding a local company that can help with vacuum packing the electrodes in foil, which is commonly used for glucose test strips. Our goal is to keep the design and manufacturing of the meter in New Zealand.” If the company can’t find a local partner for this step, it would have to be shipped offshore, Mr Perry says.
“It is very common in New Zealand to test for vitamin B12 and D, but for reasons unknown to us, vitamin C is not routinely tested.”
Scurvy risk identified
In the University of Otago study 400 Christchurch people’s blood was tested for vitamin C.
Only 7% had optimal levels and 13% had very low levels showing pre-clinical signs of scurvy.
“Vitamin C plays a significant role in health, as a wide range of bodily functions depend on optimal levels,” Mr Perry says.
“Dietary changes are effective in overcoming most basic deficiencies. Where appropriate there are a multitude of dietary supplements available, some of which are government subsidised.”
Mr Perry believes low vitamin C levels are largely due to our modern diet and lifestyle.
“Processed, over cooked foods contain very little vitamin C. Stress, chronic and acute illnesses all increase the need for vitamin C, which can only be replaced by eating enough vitamin C rich foods and or supplementation.”
| A Feedback Research Limited release || november 20, 2017 |||
Dunedin will get a new $1 billion plus hospital, in what will be the largest build of its type in New Zealand’s history, Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says.
Dr Coleman made the announcement with Prime Minister Bill English at Dunedin Hospital today.
“The Government is committed to ensuring the people of Dunedin and the wider Southern community receive quality hospital care,” Dr Coleman says.
“We have been assessing the options around refurbishing the existing site and building a new hospital. The decision has been made to rebuild.
“This would maximise the opportunity of having a purpose-built, state-of-the-art facility, while also minimising disruption to patients and staff.
“Given the scale of the project it is estimated to cost between $1.2 billion - $1.4 billion, making it the largest hospital rebuild in New Zealand history.
“The original plan was to simply rebuild the services block, but the indicative business case has determined that the ward block also needs replacing and that has increased the cost significantly from the original $300 million estimate.
“The Ministry of Health is working to secure an appropriate site for the new hospital, with a strong preference for a central city location. Depending on the location the new hospital will be opened in 7 – 10 years.
“Given the size of the project the Government will consider all funding options including a Private Public Partnership model.
“We are also taking steps to support the existing Dunedin Hospital while the rebuild takes place with an extra $4.7 million being invested into the Interim Works programme, taking the fund to $27.2 million.
“The programme includes the expansion of ICU to 22 bed spaces over the next 12 months. Taking the unit to eight ICU beds, 10 High Dependency beds and 4 beds which are flexible to be either as demand requires.
“Increasing the number of co-located beds in ICU will greatly improve efficiency and enable more effective care of patients.
“The programme also includes the expansion of the Gastroenterology Unit, which will support the roll-out of the National Bowel Screening Programme to the DHB.
“This is a once in a generation opportunity to build modern and sustainable health facilities that will meet the future needs of Dunedin and the wider Southern community.”
The new Dunedin Hospital will follow on from the completion of the new $77.8 million Grey Base Hospital on the West Coast, as well as the almost $1 billion hospital redevelopment programme in Canterbury.
The Indicative Business Case for Dunedin Hospital can be accessed here.
New Zealand is seeing a substantial increase in demand from the older ageing population for fitness, exercise and personal trainers, according to ExerciseNZ chief executive Richard Beddie.
He says they now know not only that exercise is needed as people we age, but also why this is the case. There are many providers catering for the ageing market, something that was rare 15 years ago.
Waikato University health and behaviour doctoral candidate Wendy Sweet says today’s ageing population, especially in the developed world, have many advantages over previous generations – not least access to research into ways to stave off age-related conditions.
Beddie says Baby Boomers who have not yet retired are in an excellent position to take advantage of significant positive benefits of exercise as well as increase both their life expectancy and their enjoyment of their later years. Living longer is not enough anymore. We know people want to live better and longer, by being active now.
“We believe the key message should be regardless of age, start now. Because even people who are already in the older age demographic, starting now will have huge benefits, and the corollary of that is the earlier the better. People should think of exercise as their body’s retirement savings system - the sooner people start, and the more they do, the better they will be.
“The key thing in starting now is do so in manageable micro-steps. In many cases finding an activity that the person enjoys is key, be it dancing, tai chi, yoga, Pilates or going to the gym. While there is a lot of information and guidelines about how much activity to do, in the short term the focus should be on forming a habit of being active - and using this to build towards long-term regular exercise.”
Beddie says hundreds of Kiwi personal trainers, gyms and fitness facilities are seeing a surge in older people seeking to get fitter. New Zealand’s best trainers and gyms will be vying for honours at the Exercise NZ awards 2017 in Auckland on November 25.
“ExerciseNZ is excited that there has never been so much interest in how Kiwis are ageing. With the last of the Baby Boomers heading into retirement over the next decade, they are not only the next generation of older people but they will be the fittest ever in our country’s history,” Beddie says.