Two ground-breaking discoveries by Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research scientists received $1million in the WA Government’s inaugural Innovation Seed Fund.
Harry Perkins Institute and Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute (CHIRI) Associate Professor Juliana Hamzah received $496,715 to help commercialise the first ever drug that dissolves life-threatening arterial plaque.
Perkins vascular engineering researcher, Nik Bappoo received $500,000 to help commercialise a device designed to improve the success rate of cannulas.
Professor Peter Leedman AO, Director of the Harry Perkins Institute welcomed the recognition by the McGowan government of outstanding West Australian science.
“These two innovations will be both life-saving and cost saving for West Australians once they’ve been fully developed for use in patients,” he said.
The novel medicine for dissolving plaque aims to improve blood circulation in patients with blocked arteries.
“It will first be tested on patients with Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) where plaque affects circulation in lower limbs,” Associate Professor Juliana Hamzah said.
If left untreated, PAD can be debilitating and lead to amputation. Currently, one in every five Western Australians over the age of 65 are diagnosed with PAD.
The new drug has the potential to also be ground-breaking as a prevention of heart-attack and stroke.
Globally, around 18 million people die annually from cardiovascular disease. The leading cause of death is the build-up of fat deposits (atherosclerotic plaque) in the blood vessels that obstruct blood flow to vital organs including the lower limbs.
A $500,000 grant to Perkins vascular engineering researcher Nik Bappoo, will assist West Leederville-based VeinTech, commercialise VeinWave, an innovative imaging device to reduce cannulation attempts in difficult access patients.
The medical device start-up, established by Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research biomedical engineer Mr Bappoo, is aiming to help patients undergoing one of the most common medical procedures.
“Cannulas can be difficult to place successfully in certain patient groups, in particular obese patients, with some patients requiring up to 5 or more attempts,” Professor Leedman said.
Nik Bappoo, who led the development of the technology, said in just two years the team had identified a largely unmet clinical need and through the Perth Biodesign Program had formed the company to develop a proof-of-concept device, now ready for clinical studies with partners at East Metropolitan Health Services.
“VeinWave is a portable device small enough to fit in the palm of a hand, that promises to make intravenous cannulation easier and more effective.
“The overall cost to the healthcare system of failed cannulation includes wasted hardware, clinician time and increased complications.
“Lifesaving tests and treatment can be drastically delayed and infection rates increased with each cannula attempt. Multiple attempts also cause significant pain and anxiety to the patient.
“We set out to create a solution that would be simple to use while reducing cannulation attempts in difficult access patients.”
The State Government’s inaugural Innovation Seed Fund 2022 supports 17 innovative medical and health research projects with $8 million of funding to help improve health and medical outcomes for Western Australians.