February 29, 2024

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Harnessing Digital Tech for Gastric Health

Image credits: auckland.ac.nz

Stefan Calder, a recent PhD graduate from the Auckland Bioengineering Institute (ABI) at the University of Auckland, has led two scientific papers published in journals focusing on gastrointestinal health. Stefan explained that there is a growing prevalence of gastric disorders among humans, yet there is a lack of dependable, non-invasive methods to assess gastric function objectively.

“Many individuals dealing with chronic gastrointestinal issues often find themselves on a continuous cycle of diagnostic procedures involving antibiotics or proton pump inhibitors until they are eventually referred for an endoscopy.”

Stefan believes a dependable surface-based recording technique could be a valuable intermediary between symptom-based diagnostics and the more invasive and surgical tests currently used.

Like the rhythmic pulsations of the heart, the movements of the gastrointestinal tract rely on bioelectrical activity. However, detecting this electrical activity in the gut has historically posed significant challenges.

Researchers at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute (ABI) and the Department of Surgery within the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences have introduced an innovative approach, utilising a specialised device comprising adhesive sensor patches, recording equipment, and associated methodologies. This pioneering technique has resulted in the development of a dependable, non-invasive tool designed to map the electrical waves originating from the stomach.

Termed ‘Body Surface Gastric Mapping’ (BSGM), this method has proven its effectiveness in accurately capturing gastric slow wave activity. Furthermore, it has led to a surprising and noteworthy revelation, uncovering two distinct disease subgroups within chronic nausea and vomiting syndromes.

The initial research paper conducted a pre-clinical study using pigs to validate the BSGM technique before its implementation in clinical trials involving human patients. BSGM has demonstrated its capability to consistently record bioelectrical activity on the surface of the gastrointestinal tract, offering precise detection of alterations in both the frequency and pattern of electromagnetic waves with exceptional detail.

Stefan addressed, “These studies have confirmed the effectiveness of a device and method for consistently and precisely demonstrating the presence of bioelectrical activity in the stomach.”

Stefan elaborated, “Among the symptomatic patient group, we found approximately two-thirds displayed normal bioelectrical activity, while the remaining one-third exhibited abnormal activity. This revelation led us to identify two distinct subtypes within what was previously regarded as a single disease. It suggests the possibility of further categorising or explaining this single disease based on different underlying mechanisms. For instance, abnormal bioelectrical activity likely indicates an intrinsic issue within the stomach itself, whereas patients with entirely normal slow wave propagation may be experiencing issues originating elsewhere.”

He continued that the concept of recording electrical activity on the body’s surface has a long history. ECG machines, which record electrical activity, have gained diagnostic acceptance over the past century, but this has yet to be the case for gastrointestinal applications.

Through this research, Stefan successfully validated a device and methodology capable of consistently and accurately demonstrating bioelectrical activity in the stomach. Additionally, he demonstrated that stomach bioactivity can serve as a valuable biological marker for the disease.

“With this newfound knowledge of bioelectrical activity, clinicians can provide more informed guidance and treatment options for individuals experiencing chronic vomiting or nausea. It may lead to more expedited diagnoses and more suitable treatment pathways.”

Peng Du, Associate Director of the Bioengineering Institute, underscores the significance of these groundbreaking findings and publications. He emphasised that this technology offers a means to facilitate advanced research endeavours aimed at enhancing the understanding of the gastrointestinal system and improving the diagnosis and treatment of gastrointestinal disorders.

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Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

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CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

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Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

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SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

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HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

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IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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