First published 1 October 2021

Professor Zhiyong Li from the QUT Centre for Biomedical Technologies and the QUT School of Mechanical, Medical and Process Engineering will lead development of the new diagnostic tool.

He said an estimated one-third of people with diabetes had cardiovascular disease, and the complications this caused contributed substantially the cost of health care.

“Diabetes and cardiovascular disease are Australia’s biggest health system challenges, but belated or inaccurate diagnosis can lead to fatal stroke or heart failure,” Professor Li said.

“People with strong symptoms are normally diagnosed using contrast angiography to determine the degree of arterial narrowing, but this method provides limited information about plaque rupture risk.

“There is no currently available technique to provide information about biomechanical risk factors such as wall shear stress and vessel stress in these vulnerable patients.”

Professor Li said the development of a QUT-proposed software solution had been driven by the unmet practical clinical need.

“We aim to develop the first diagnostic tool capable of reflecting plaque morphology, activity, and structural stability.

“Our tool should provide an accurate assessment of blood flow dynamics and arterial wall stress, in addition to the traditional morphological information.

“Once the prototype is developed and trialled with end-users in clinical settings, we expect it to be easily implemented through databases and computers, similar to current image post-processing software,” he said.

Professor Li will lead the two-year project from January 2022 with Professor Prasad Yarlagadda from the QUT Faculty of Engineering, and Professor Glen Tian from the QUT Faculty of Science.

The QUT researchers will collaborate with Dr Craig Winter from the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital; Dr Thomas Lloyd, Dr Juanita Muller and Dr William Wang from the Princess Alexandra Hospital; and Dr Owen Christopher Raffel from The Prince Charles Hospital.

This project received funding from the Australian Government’s Targeted Translation Research Accelerator (TTRA) program, delivered by MTPConnect.

The TTRA program is a $47 million Medical Research Future Fund (MRRF) initiative that provides up to $750,000 in Research Projects funding to nurture innovative preventative, diagnostic, therapeutic and disease management products/solutions for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, announced the funding as part of a $9.2 million MRFF package including $5.2 million for seven projects through the TTRA, and $4 million for five projects through BioMedTech Horizons (BMTH).

Feature image: (L-R) Professor Glen Tian, Professor Zhiyong Li, and Professor Prasad Yarlagadda.

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