News & Events November 10, 2021

Combining engineering thinking with medical research has proved a winning formula for four Perth start-up companies linked to the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research in Nedlands.

They were winners in the State government’s WA Innovator of the Year (WAIOTY) awards and recipients of grants from the MTPConnect WA Life Sciences Innovation Hub, a three-way partnership between MTPConnect (the national industry growth centre for the medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector), the WA Government and The University of Western Australia.

The innovations were in the fields of breast cancer surgery, coronary care, catheterisation, and the safe arrival of newborn babies.

Navier Medical, recently spun out of UWA and the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, won the Rio Tinto Emerging Innovation Award for their technology to assist heart surgeons.

Associate Professor Barry Doyle, Head of the Vascular Engineering Laboratory known as the VascLab at the Harry Perkins Institute said the technology, called Apricot, is an advanced coronary artery assessment tool that aims to provide new information to cardiologist when they are treating a patient during catheterisation theatre.

The software creates a 3D image of an artery and applies engineering-based simulations to better understand the biomechanical forces occurring on the inside of the artery.

“Apricot’s simulations assess shear stress based on Computational Fluid Dynamics, the same type of engineering mechanics used to design everything from Formula 1 cars to oil and gas pipelines.

“It also runs simulations to assess structural stress in the arteries to inform doctors about areas of plaque build-up that are at risk of rupture,” A/Prof Doyle said.

A team of biomedical engineers and cardiologists have spent the past seven years developing the coronary artery software analysis tool.

Another member of VascLab, Dr Nikelesh Bappoo, founded medical device company VeinTech, which won the Business News Great for the State Platinum award for their technology VeinWave. This new technology helps in the common practice of inserting cannula’s, particularly in patients with veins that are difficult to access.

“We have been cannulating people since the 1950’s, yet we are still just stabbing around in the dark most of the time. It’s not just the pain that is the problem: each missed cannulation attempt delays time-critical treatment and costs the Australian healthcare system $700 million yearly. We are developing the VeinWave to solve this multi-faceted problem and hope to help clinicians find the right vein, first time, every time,” he said.

Dr Bappoo is also part of the management team at another start-up company, VitalTrace, which won the Wesfarmers Wellbeing Platinum Award for their technology, DelivAssure, which is a novel biosensor that continuously monitors foetal distress during labour.

VitalTrace has developed a wireless biosensor that is placed on the baby and provides a constant reading of the baby’s oxygen levels during childbirth.

Both VeinTech and VitalTrace were awarded a $100,000 MTPConnect WA Life Sciences Innovation Hub Manufacturing Voucher.

Medical device company OncoRes was also awarded a Manufacturing Voucher.

OncoRes is developing an interoperative imaging tool developed by Harry Perkins Institute bioengineers to detect cancer cells on a microscopic scale.

The tool is designed to help surgeons more accurately identify and remove cancerous tissue—an approach that could substantially improve outcomes in breast-conserving surgery and reduce repeat operations for women with breast cancer.

Nedlands-based OncoRes Medical will use the funding to test the clinical feasibility of a diagnostic imaging system to guide the clearance of cancer in breast-conserving surgery.


PHOTO, AT TOP: L-R Barry Doyle, Lachlan Kelsey, Katherine Arenson, Nicholas Buckley, Nikhilesh Bappoo, Arjun Kaushik, Michael Challenor. Image credit: Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation — photographer Michael Bain.



Media Contact:  Miriam Borthwick M 0437 411 683      E [email protected]


About the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research                              

The Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research is one Australia’s leading medical research institutes investigating diseases affecting the community. With over 250 researchers located on three hospital campuses in Perth, the Perkins is uniquely positioned to fast track the development of new discoveries and treatments. Its wholly owned clinical trials facility, Linear Clinical Research, provides international and local pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies the facilities to trial latest drugs and treatments in healthy volunteers and patients. The Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research is proudly West Australian, providing career opportunities to our best and brightest graduates and bringing to the State international scientists. As a registered charity, the Harry Perkins Institute relies on grants and donations to fund its medical research.