16 July 2018: A new generation of non-intrusive blood tests are a step closer to reality after University of Canberra researchers were awarded $1 million in Federal Government funding.
The University has partnered with MyHealthTest Pty Ltd in a three-year project aimed at helping Australians to manage their health more effectively and conveniently through dried blood spot testing.
Dried blood spot testing is an at-home finger prick blood test. The sample is mailed to a pathology laboratory for testing and the results are delivered online, allowing people to absorb the outcome at a pace that suits them.
Researchers at the University are developing tests to detect and monitor vitamin deficiencies and hormone imbalances which will complement MyHealthTest’s existing test services for diabetes.
The company will also soon bring tests for prostate, thyroid and cholesterol to market.
The University’s researchers – Dr Ashraf Ghanem, Dr Simon Foster and Dr Tamsin Kelly – are focusing on applications of liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry to high-volume commercial pathology testing services.
Dr Foster said the techniques were expected to broaden the range of tests available to consumers.
“For people who may need regular blood tests, and especially people who live away from their nearest pathology lab, being able to post away a blood sample that they take in their own home is a game-changer,” Dr Foster, an expert in environmental and analytical chemistry, said.
“Liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry are both very common analysis methods in chemistry. Using them side-by-side enhances the range of information and results which scientists can draw from a single, small sample.
“This project is a great collaborative effort and I am thrilled to be working with innovative colleagues in this space as we move towards the commercialisation of these tests.”
An earlier path-finder project undertaken by the University and MyHealthTest, led by Dr Ghanem, received $50,000 in funding in 2016 in the form of an AusIndustry Innovation Connection Grant.
MyHealthTest General Manager Dr Nick Cerneaz said the latest funding would ensure the ongoing development of new and additional tests for the benefit of Australians.
“We’ve been working with the University of Canberra for some time to accelerate the development of new products and have been delighted with the collaborative relationships that have developed within this project,” Dr Cerneaz said.
“This funding will both significantly boost our efforts to bring new test services to market and also forge lasting relationships that will likely lead to further collaborative commercialisation efforts.”
Dr Foster added: “We are very grateful to our collaborators and for the Federal Government’s support of this work that will build on our previous efforts and deliver solutions and better outcomes for Australians and our health sector.
“This funding demonstrates the confidence the Government has in our work and our ability to develop important new services capable of improving lives.”
The project is a collaboration between the University of Canberra, MyHealthTest, Anzac Research Institute and Agilent Technologies Australia.