U of S researcher honoured for next-generation "camera pill" to diagnose gut ailments

SASKATOON - A University of Saskatchewan (U of S) researcher who has improved the technology for taking pictures inside the human gut has won the 2016 Innovation Place Industry Liaison Office (ILO) Award of Innovation.

"It is important to recognize the efforts of all creative minds to obtain innovative solutions that lead to sustainable growth and social welfare," said Johannes Dyring, managing director of the U of S Industry Liaison Office. "The Award of Innovation tells the story of advances in modern technology happening right here in Saskatoon and gives a behind-the-scenes look at the depth of the university and what it offers to our community."

The winner of the $5,000 award is Khan Wahid, associate professor in the College of Engineering, recognizing significant innovations in video and image processing and biomedical imaging systems, specifically wireless endoscopy capsules. The "camera pills" are roughly the size and shape of an oversized vitamin capsule and are swallowed by patients suspected of having some form of gastrointestinal disorder or disease.

"Doctors are not satisfied with the current image quality from endoscopy capsules," Wahid said. "We are working to improve the technology in several ways, which will lead to more consistent, accurate diagnosis."

The patented image compression technology allows much more efficient capture and processing of images. This decreases the workload of the capsule's computer chip, allowing more and better images.

Wahid is now testing the technology in animals with collaborators at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, both as a test bed for human use, and to potentially fill a need for veterinarians, as there is no such tool on the market for their needs. A prototype capsule with the new technology has been tested in pigs, which have a similar digestive system as humans. An initial test with a horse was successful and more are planned for both horses and dogs.

"This in-vivo trial (in pig) shows noticeable improvement both on the image quality and frame rate," Wahid said, explaining that a new interface which transmits images to smart devices such as cell phones also worked well, enabling real-time and remote diagnosis.

The Award of Innovation honours U of S researchers who have brought new and commercially viable technology to the ILO for development into marketable products. It is open to all U of S employees and students.

"This technology will have a significant positive impact in the healthcare of both humans and animals," said Van Isman, CEO of Innovation Place, the award's co-sponsor. "While better diagnostic information will lead to better health outcomes, seeing this applied in a fashion that is less invasive than current processes is a tremendous advancement."

In terms of opportunity, the diagnostic industry has grown at a 5.5 per cent rate annually since 2009 when the market was $21.3 billion. Today, it is estimated at $31 billion.

In addition to cash prizes, the winners are recognized with a trophy and photo on the "Award of Innovation" wall at the Industry Liaison Office.

Innovation Place is one of North America's most successful university-related research parks. The Industry Liaison Office is a division of the University of Saskatchewan which specializes in facilitating commercialization of university research and knowledge, to effectively and efficiently transfer it to the public. The ILO also works to establish a foundation for entrepreneurial culture throughout the university.

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For more information, contact:

Johannes Dyring
Managing Director
Industry Liaison Office

Van Isman

President and CEO

Innovation Place

306-933-6258 (Saskatoon)

306-787-8554 (Regina)


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