Robotic ulcers

 In an exciting collaboration with Vitramed Mechatronics, students help to design Robots to assist with stomach ulcer detection.


Clement Chiu, Andy Lu, Chris Liu and David Gailey have all been working on this relatively new arm of the Vitramed Company. Vitramed initially began selling biomedical equipment before it developed its Bioscience strand. General Manager, Daniel Simmons, has now pioneered the Mechatronics arm, which is engineering novel solutions to enhance current Biomedical technologies.

One half of our interns are creating a prototype to automate the manufacture of Vitramed’s new Rapid Urease Test. The Rapid Urease Test is used to test for the presence of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori in tissue samples taken during endoscopy. Unlike existing tests, this new test does not require refrigeration and is relatively cheaper to manufacture. This is particularly relevant for use in the hotter environments of our Asian neighbours where transporting refrigerated tests is expensive. Manufacture of the test requires rings of filter paper to be inserted into plastic wells, after which an indicator solution is added into wells and the tests before being allowed to dry in a controlled environment. Up until this point the test has been manufactured in a labour intensive fashion that is not suitable for larger volumes. The students are using LEGO Mindstorms to build an initial working prototype and then creating a second more customised prototype using more traditional motors and controller units. This work directly contributes to making this test available in a cost effective fashion in Australia and around the world.

The remaining Interns are working on the Heliprobe Urea Breath Test, which also tests for Helicobacter pylori. This device usually outputs results to an older style thermal printer that is no longer supported. The students have worked with microcontrollers to create a small, smart electronic device that intercepts the Heliprobe printer message and converts it into a format that can be sent to a modern, reliable and cost-effective label printer. This will allow results to be more effectively printed and documented in patient records, improving the current quality of patient care.

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