By Deepak Sharma

Sparc is engaged in developing innovative technology solutions using graphene.

The project intends to use graphene-based bio-medical sensors in integration with existing diagnostic tools or other portable electronic devices such as smartphones to enable real-time and portable disease detection.

Sparc Technologies Ltd (ASX:SPN) has established a new graphene bio-medical division aimed at developing non-invasive graphene-based breath sensing devices for detection of diseases in humans and animals.

Sparc will advance the project together with cornerstone shareholder, strategic partner and leading graphene research centre the University of Adelaide (UA) in order to seek to establish and develop non-invasive sensing devices for human and veterinarian applications.

The focus of the project will be research into graphene-based sensing devices for the detection of a selection of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in exhaled breath that are understood to be indicators of disease.

Early detection and management

Graphene, due to its uniquely large surface area and physicochemical properties, enables VOCs to be detected in minute quantities.

Sparc will use these properties with the aim of isolating and identifying a selection of specific compounds which are biomarkers for certain diseases.

Subject to the findings of that work, the project will include development/fabrication of lab-scale sensing devices and initial evaluation of their sensing performances with selected VOCs.

If successful, it could have profound global consequences for the early detection and management of disease, especially transmissible acquired diseases, including those caused by bacteria, fungi and viruses, as well as longer-term congenital or neoplastic diseases.

A successful project will provide Sparc with important technology for commercialisation in medical markets.

Appointment of Ben Yerbury

The company has appointed Ben Yerbury as technical consultant – Biomedical Division to direct the project on behalf of the company

Yerbury brings more than 20 years of experience in the global medical device industry, including several Fortune 500 companies including ResMed, Baxter Healthcare, Boston Scientific and Zimmer Biomet.

His experience spans a broad range of clinical specialties and technologies across the respiratory and cardiovascular fields to orthopaedics and general surgery, to infusion therapy and nephrology.

Critical expertise

Sparc executive chairman Stephen Hunt said: “We welcome Ben to the Sparc team and look forward to his guidance and leadership for this new division.

“Ben will provide critical expertise for Sparc on this initial bio-medical project that aims to target the detection of life-threatening diseases with the use of non-invasive sensing devices.

“Ben joins us at a great time and he will work closely with UA, which has already undertaken significant background research in medical bio-sensors for many VOCs.

“It is wonderful to see Sparc continuing to attract experienced senior executives such as Ben and the new division and this project will be complementary with the recent appointment of Don Darkin to the role of strategic advisor, New Technologies.

“We look forward to pioneering new technologies and applications for this revolutionary material and will seek to continue to be at the forefront of graphene.”