A research team from the University of Otago, Wellington (UOW) in New Zealand has received a $1m MBIE Endeavour grant to develop a non-invasive device for the diagnosis and treatment of stroke and brain injuries.

Contrary to current invasive or expensive technologies such as imaging equipment to detect lack of oxygen to the brain, the new device is intended to be safe, cheap and quick.

Led by associate professor Shieak Tzeng, the new research will be based on previous work, which demonstrated that the team’s concept based on portable magnetic resonance technology could detect changes in blood oxygen levels.

Professor Tzeng said: “Brain tissue is exceptionally vulnerable to ischemia (lack of oxygen), so early detection and targeted therapy are crucial to improving survival rates across a wide range of conditions.”

The researchers aim to design new sensors with the ability to identify a wide range of brain injury biomarkers, including tissue diffusion and perfusion.

"The researchers aim to design new sensors with the ability to identify a wide range of brain injury biomarkers, including tissue diffusion and perfusion."

To be designed and built in the country, the new device is expected to deliver a complete picture of brain injury processes to allow targeted treatments.

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Tzeng further added: “We will design it in partnership with those New Zealand’s health professionals who will be using it as well as the NZ biotechnology industry to make the device accessible worldwide.

“We have a vision of New Zealand export sales of medical devices that enable comprehensive brain monitoring at the point-of-care.”

It is expected that the ability of the device to detect the common brain injury mechanism, ischemia, will enable treatment of various neurovascular disorders.

Image: UOW associate professor Shieak Tzeng. Photo: courtesy of the University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand.