A high-tech stick for the prevention of cardiac risk


The Australian start-up ESN Cleer, with RMIT University and the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC), are developing a device that can detect the risk of heart failure and stroke from saliva.

The device has the shape of a stick; nano-sensors on the tip of it measure heart disease biomarkers from saliva to accurately predict the risk of heart disease. The device should be on the market by 2021.

ESN Cleer CEO, Leopoldt de Bruin, said the collaboration represented some of the best minds in medical device innovation, design and manufacture.

Of the 400 million people who suffer from cardiovascular disease globally, only 16 percent of cases are due to genetic traits. This underlines how much room there is to improve on screening and prevention, which is where this device could have such an impact”, doctor Bruin said.

Research Co-Director of RMIT’s Functional Materials and Microsystems Research Group, Professor Sharath Sriram, said this was the first portable heart disease test with such high levels of accuracy. The sensing technology, developed at RMIT’s cutting-edge Micro Nano Research Facility, was validated in the lab to measure biomarker concentrations thousand times more precisely than levels in human body fluids.

This marks a big step forward in technology for screening,” Sriram said. “Currently, blood tests are conducted after a heart failure episode. Such reactive testing is too late, leaving people with a debilitating illness or leading to deaths. Prevention is always better than cure, which is where this technology comes in, adding accurate prediction to the mix.

The IMCRC funding, which matches contributions from ESN Cleer, is enabling a $3.5 million project investment into addressing the challenge of manufacturing and large-scale production of these diagnostic swabs.

Utilising advanced materials and adopting high-precision, automated manufacturing processes will allow the swabs to be high value and at a competitive cost”, explained David Chuter, CEO and Managing Director at the IMCRC.

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