To change lives is probably the dream of every life sciences researcher, or for that matter a life sciences company.
Having done that for years, ImpediMed Limited (ASX: IPD) — a UniQuest-incubated startup — is living an additional dream. It won a ‘Life Changing’ award at BIOCOM, the industry group in Southern California. The award, presented at BIOCOM’s 6th Annual Medical Device & Diagnostics Expo in San Diego, California, cited ImpediMed for making “the biggest difference on an individual while addressing the greatest medical need.”
“ImpediMed is a Queensland success story, and UniQuest is proud to have been involved at the start of its commercialisation journey from concept to clinical setting,” said UniQuest Managing Director David Henderson.
Leg up for campus innovation
Henderson said the award highlighted the impact of Australian research on cancer patient care around the world and was “a significant endorsement of Australian university-based innovation.”
So how did ImpediMed help lives?
UniQuest, the University of Queensland’s commercialisation arm, picked a key technology called bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) and, in 1999, patented it for detecting and monitoring of lymphoedema. The next year, it founded ImpediMed Limited with an initial investor, Parma Corporation, run by Mel and Lucille Bridges.
BIA uses simple math and bioelectricity to measure a variety of parameters in the human body. Its L-Dex technology runs electric current through the human body to quantify changes in levels of extracellular fluid in a patient’s limb. This helps estimate extracellular fluid in the body and detect lymphoedema, a condition that often afflicts the arms of women diagnosed with cancer.
Previously, doctors relied purely on physical measurements at frequent intervals to detect the onset of lymphoedema. But this often resulted in delayed diagnosis and delayed treatment, causing grievous harm to patients. ImpediMed’s technology enables early, and more accurate, detection of the condition, helping doctors begin early treatment.
ImpediMed believes its technology has other potential commercial applications, notably in the assessment and monitoring of secondary lymphoedema, general health assessment and weight management, muscle wasting, drug dosing and monitoring and sports medicine and fitness.
The BIA technology was developed by The University of Queensland’s Dr. Leigh Ward and the Queensland University of Technology’s Dr. Brian Thomas and Dr. Bruce Cornish.
Established in 1984, UniQuest claims an intellectual property portfolio of 1,500+ patents. It has established more than 70 companies. Since 2000 UniQuest and its start-ups have raised more than $450 million to take university technologies to market and annual sales of products using UQ technology and licensed by UniQuest are estimated at $3 billion.