Ground-breaking heart research in Christchurch, New Zealand.

by The REJIGIT Blog

New Zealand should be proud that internationally important research is being carried out in Christchurch and all of those involved are to be congratulated.

Upstream Medical Technologies is a partnership between the University of Otago and Powerhouse Ventures Ltd. Researchers from the University’s Christchurch Heart Institute are developing a range of tests to speed up the diagnosis of heart conditions and which will be patented and ultimately sold to health systems worldwide. The global market for unstable angina diagnostics is estimated to be worth more than $1.5 billion.

Upstream Medical Technologies is Christchurch based and headed up by Associate Research Professor Chris Pemberton together with Dr Ruth Appleby. The research team has developed a quick elimination test for unstable angina and is known as UARatio.                                                                 

                                Professor Chris Pemberton                             Dr Ruth Appleby

This New Zealand developed blood test can identify the cause of chest pains and could potentially save the health system $70 million a year and assist patients to avoid extended stays in hospital.

Christchurch Heart Institute researchers are the first to identify the relevance to heart health of protein fragments in the blood described as signal peptides. Once identified, these protein fragments can be monitored by way of medical diagnostics for a range of heart related medical matters.

Studies have demonstrated that patients presenting with angina have a significantly increased risk of suffering a heart attack within a six month period. Early intervention is therefore imperative and the UARatio test is an important advance in improving the diagnostic process.

The UARatio test identifies the presence of a specific bio-marker in the bloodstream. The test regime can detect an imminent heart attack before tissue damage occurs and is currently 98 per cent reliable.

Of the fifty thousand New Zealanders seeking medical attention for chest pains each year, only about six thousand two hundred and fifty may be suffering a heart condition such as a heart attack or unstable angina and then only two thirds of those are actually experiencing heart attack.

Current practice is for doctors to admit anyone presenting with chest pain to hospital and conduct tests over a sometimes lengthy period to eliminate by process of elimination any life threatening conditions.

Upstream Medical Technologies is currently in the process of applying for regulatory approval of the UARatio test which should see it accepted for in use in the US toward the end of 2019 and elsewhere in the world thereafter.