New Zealand

Food industry technology may help critically ill patients

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Food industry technology may help critically ill patients

Related tags New zealand

Technology used in the food industry to measure the antioxidant properties of edible plants, tea and wine could be adapted to monitor the oxidative stress of critically ill patients in intensive care.

University of Auckland surgical researcher Dr Anthony Phillips has been given a NZ$150,000 (US$112,000) grant from the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) to develop a device to perform routine oxidative stress measurements in patients for the first time.

The device uses technology called cyclic voltammetry that is widely used in the antioxidant food industry, but which has never been used for clinical use in acute and critically ill patients.

Currently no test available

Oxidative stress is a universal feature of vital organ dysfunction and failure during acute and critical illness. It occurs when pro-oxidants overwhelm antioxidant defences.

Phillips says there is currently no easy bedside test for measuring oxidative stress.

It is widely recognised that a simple, real-time point-of-care measurement of oxidative stress could be of significant benefit in assessing and managing acute and critically ill patients​,” said Phillips.

Cyclic voltammetry is a remarkably straightforward technique. It uses two electrodes to measure the key components of blood total antioxidant status in one simple measurement cycle that takes only a few minutes​.”

As the technology is simple and has a strong scientific foundation, Phillips says it offers a short path from development to implementation, and “a global opportunity for New Zealand to lead innovation in patient management strategies​”.

Another grant given to food research

Phillips is one of three Auckland University researchers to receive grants worth $150,000.

Another, Dr Stefanie Vandevijvere, is using hers to research effective ways to persuade New Zealanders to improve their diets.

The study includes crowdsourcing data with a smartphone application on the nutritional quality of foods in schools.

Unhealthy diets have overtaken tobacco use as the major risk factor for disease in New Zealand​,” says Vandevijvere. “This project will support public awareness and improved actions at the local level to reduce childhood obesity​.”

A grant was also awarded to Dr Justin O’Sullivan for his research that will test a new way of understanding the activation of cells that migrate through the body to maintain health – or cause diseases such as cancer.

It is also important for musculoskeletal and vascular cells that exhibit changes in elasticity that are associated with the onset and development of chronic diseases.

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