NZ firm patents finger-prick vitamin C-testing device to help combat widespread national deficiency

By Cheryl Tay contact

- Last updated on GMT

CEO Jackson Perry said the device is the first of its kind in the world.
CEO Jackson Perry said the device is the first of its kind in the world.

Related tags: Nutrition, Vitamin c

Vitamin C deficiency could become easier to tackle, thanks to new technology from Kiwi firm Feedback Research Ltd.

The Auckland-based company has spent five years developing the patented Feedback C Meter, which it claims provides a more accessible point-of-care vitamin C test.

CEO Jackson Perry said the device is the first of its kind in the world, offering a finger-prick test he believes will lead to vitamin C testing becoming as commonly used as cholesterol or blood glucose finger-prick tests.

He said, "It is very common in New Zealand to test for vitamin B12 and D, but for reasons unknown to us, vitamin C is not routinely tested."

Feedback Research intends to market it locally in 2018 and internationally in two years.

A timely invention

The Feedback C Meter could help to lower incidences of vitamin C insufficiency and deficiency, a widespread health issue in New Zealand.

The University of Otago recently released data stating that more than two-thirds of New Zealand's over-50 population have vitamin C insufficiency or deficiency, and in over 10% of the cases, the deficiency is considered severe.

The researchers had assessed 400 people from Christchurch, and found that only 7% possessed optimal vitamin C levels, while 13% had very low levels and exhibited pre-clinical signs of scurvy.

Researchers at the university then suggested a routine test for vitamin C levels, similar to the ones already in place for iron and cholesterol levels.

Lifestyle implications

Perry attributes the prevalence of low vitamin C levels to diet and lifestyle, saying, "Dietary changes are effective in overcoming most basic deficiencies.

"Processed, overcooked foods contain very little vitamin C. Stress (and) chronic and acute illnesses all increase the need for vitamin C, which can only be replaced by eating enough vitamin C-rich foods and / or supplementation."

Regarding the Feedback C Meter and the company's plans, he revealed: "We are very close to the finish line, and the last piece of the puzzle is finding a local company that can help with vacuum packing the electrodes in foil, which is commonly used for glucose test strips.

"Our goal is to keep the design and manufacturing of the meter in New Zealand."

He added, however, that if the company does not manage to find a local partner for this purpose, it would have to resort to shipping the product offshore.

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