One of the big areas of growth in medical research around the world at the moment ($US30 Billion and growing) is rapid diagnostics. Basically this means that diseases, viruses, conditions etc., can be diagnosed in a simple, cheap and fast manner anywhere on earth. The prescribed treatment can then be administered, saving time and money on expensive lab analysis.
An example from the last decade is pregnancy test kits which can now predict whether or not a woman is pregnant to a good level of accuracy, without the need to go to a doctor. With the level of chronic diseases such as diabetes (usually confined to developed countries) on a dramatic rise in underdeveloped nations and global pandemics such as the recent Swine Flu, the need for results straight away is becoming more crucial.
There are a few NZ companies that are leading the way in this area – Veritide Ltd, a start up in Christchurch who make detectors for anthrax spores, and Izon who make patented nano pore’s for the detection of specific viruses. Check them out – they’re doing some incredible work.
This year the NZ Venture Investment Fund announced they are looking to invest $10 million into new medical technologies. Hopefully the result of this is a few more companies in this area that NZ could benefit from.