Jamie Morton

Jamie Morton is science reporter at the NZ Herald.

$92m awarded for ingenious projects

The Government has awarded $92 million for a range of ingenious projects aimed at boosting New Zealand's high-tech manufacturing sector. Science reporter Jamie Morton takes a look at some of the bright ideas ...

The Government has awarded $92 million for a range of ingenious projects aimed at boosting New Zealand's high-tech manufacturing sector.  Photo / Sarah Ivey
The Government has awarded $92 million for a range of ingenious projects aimed at boosting New Zealand's high-tech manufacturing sector. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Surgery glue

A University of Otago-led team are looking at developing a new generation of "tough" gels to control bleeding and prevent adhesions forming in neurosurgery, abdominal surgery and gynaecological procedures, and act as sealants and glues for trauma and high-pressure wound healing.

The team's first-generation gel provided bleeding and anti-adhesion control and has already been licensed to a global medical device company for ear, nose and throat surgery, and is awaiting approval from the US Food and Drug Administration.
Awarded: $4.6 million over four years.

Smart paint

A GNS team is trying to produce a paint that makes your home warmer in winter, or your car cooler in summer.

"The whole proposal is to create little nano-particles to put in paint and for them to absorb infra-red better, or to reflect it better, so we can control the actual temperature of the paint," Dr Andreas Markwitz said.

This would mean cars in dark colours would require no more air-conditioning than white cars.
Awarded: $900,000 over two years.

Science vs cancer

The technology of genomic sequencing is being used to get extensive data from individual cells, offering the possibility of diagnosing cancer more accurately and at an earlier stage, with minimally invasive techniques.

A University of Otago team will screen body fluids for the presence of rare cancer cells.

The data gathered may also enable the precise location of tumours and their likely clinical characteristics, such as drug resistance or sensitivity.

In this proof of principle study, the team will apply the technology to developing a minimally invasive diagnostic test for endometrial cancer.
Awarded: $910,558 over two years.

Tapping in to skin

A recent discovery shows we don't just listen to things with our ears - we also listen with our skin.

Scientists at the University of Canterbury now want to use that discovery to better hear devices such as phones, for instance in noisy environments.

"People with reduced hearing and people in noisy environments cannot use these devices to their full potential," Dr Donald Derrick said.

For New Zealand, the export possibilities were significant - despite a huge market, people with hearing impairment or who are working in noisy conditions cannot use existing audio devices to their potential.
Awarded: $481,000 over two years.

Insulin insight

University of Otago scientists are looking at creating a simple test to find out if cells which produce insulin are dying.

Dr Christopher Pemberton said they have already discovered a part of insulin which could provide an insight into how a person's cells are performing.

"The take-home message is that we want to do the work and hopefully develop a test that is simple to use and will give a clinician a good idea as to how the insulin in the pancreas is functioning."

This would assist clinicians in providing better treatment, Dr Pemberton said.

The team will now begin a research programme with a focus group of more than 100 people without any disease, and hundreds more who either have diabetes or who are at risk of developing it.
Awarded: $886,000 over two years.

- NZ Herald

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