Environment & Engineering

Wellington UniVentures spin-out Wellumio

Published Jan 12, 2022

Globally, millions of people per year are affected by stroke and the impact can be incredibly serious on both the individual and their whānau. Early stroke diagnosis is crucial to ensure the right treatment is received. Wellington UniVentures has supported the spin out of Wellumio, the company creating a portable device which aims to revolutionise stroke treatment around the world by shortening time to treatment.

There are two different types of stroke, ischemic stroke (blood clot) or haemorrhagic stroke (brain bleed) and the treatments are very different – giving a clot busting drug to someone who is bleeding could kill them, which is why early diagnosis is incredibly important.

Currently, CT and MRI scans are the only technologies that can detect and differentiate between stroke types. However, this technology isn’t easily accessible, particularly for those living in rural areas or disadvantaged communities.

Spinning out of research from Dr Sergei Obruchkov and his team at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington, as well as researchers at the University of Otago, a novel portable device has been developed which can be brought directly to the patient to monitor brain tissue health.

The device (Axana), has been built using permanent magnet assemblies to be mobile and uses principles of magnetic resonance to sense anomalies to readily detect stroke. This stroke diagnostic technology can be used in an ambulance, emergency department or in remote communities, reducing the reliance on expensive in-hospital imaging modalities and shortening the amount of time to diagnosis.

“One CT scan is the equivalent of 1,000 x-rays and it is not feasible to use CT as a monitoring tool as only static images of the brain can be shown. The Axana device is able to measure multi-parametric information such as tissue oxygenation, diffusion, and perfusion. While similar to other portable MRI machines, the Axana is able to continuously monitor disease progression and is smaller, more affordable and less complex. Our vision at Wellumio is to see our technology help increase tenfold the number of people treated for stroke within the golden hour in the next ten years.” Explained Dr Obruchkov.

Recognising the social impact of the device, Wellington UniVentures supported the IP identification and validated the market opportunity, helping to facilitate the collaboration with Otago Innovation.

Hamish Findlay, General Manager Commercialisation at Wellington UniVentures says: “This tool will provide clinicians with incredibly valuable information at the point of care and has the potential to be licensed across the medical sector to help people globally. We understand that it can take time to get an idea like this out into the world, but with the expertise from the team both here in Wellington and in Otago, we’re excited to see this device come to fruition. We look forward to seeing Wellumio head off on to this entrepreneurial journey.”