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Thursday 3 September 2015 3:11pm

Duncan WarwickProfessor Warwick Duncan of the SJWRI and collaborator Paul Harris of Callaghan Innovation were today awarded $1.2 million in MBIE Targeted Research funding over three years for a project called UltraD3, the aim of which is to develop new dental diagnostic devices which can detect disease using ultrasound.

The UltraD3 project aims to develop a miniaturised ultrasonic device for the early diagnosis of periodontal (gum) disease around teeth and dental implants. Periodontal disease is a common condition; severe periodontitis is the 6th most prevalent condition in the world, and one in three New Zealand adults have evidence of periodontal pockets. There is a strong link between periodontal infection and other diseases with high mortality and morbidity, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Examination techniques for periodontal disease have not changed in a century, involving painful manual probing of the gums around teeth to determine whether the gum tissue is inflamed or diseased.

The UltraD3 concept employs miniaturised high frequency transducers and imaging systems and applies these to the clinical problem of diagnosing early inflammation around teeth and dental implants. By using ultrasonics to examine changes in the elasticity of the gum tissue (gingiva) and ligaments that connect the tooth to the surrounding tissues, the team aims to provide an early diagnosis of periodontal disease. Earlier intervention for gum problems will reduce both the discomfort and the cost of late-stage surgical treatment for these conditions. Between the SJWRI and Callaghan Innovation, the UltraD3 team has world-leading capabilities in dental research, ultrasonics, electronics and materials science.

The SJWRI congratulates Professor Duncan and the UltraD3 team on this tremendous news.

$96.5 million for new science research programmes (NZ Government website)

Full list of projects funded in the 2015 MBIE Science Investment Round (MBIE website, PDF document)

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