Special Report: Graphene technologies company Sparc Technologies has formed a new bio-medical business unit that has launched its first research project, a breath sensor.

The new business unit for Sparc Technologies (ASX:SPN) is headed by Ben Yerbury, who has more than 20 years’ experience in the global medical device sector.

Yerbury has worked for ResMed, Baxter Healthcare, Boston Scientific and Zimmer Biomet.

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


New unit’s first project is graphene-based breath sensor device

Sparc’s bio-medical business unit’s first project is to develop a graphene-based breath sensor that can detect illness in humans and animals through volatile organic compounds.

Cornerstone investor in Sparc, the University of Adelaide, will collaborate on the bio-medical project that will use graphene-based technology.

“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,” said Hunt.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are present in exhaled breath and are understood to be indicators of disease, and their detection using graphene technology is a new frontier in science research and medical diagnosis.


Breath sensor device could have global consequences

A successful outcome to the research project could have profound global consequences for the early detection and management of disease, especially transmissible acquired ones such as those caused by bacteria, fungi and viruses, and some cancers.

It will also provide Sparc with important technology for commercialisation in medical markets.

Sparc intends to develop a graphene-based medical sensor that can be integrated with existing diagnostic tools or portable electronic devices such as smartphones.

Graphene is an ideal material for the Sparc breath sensor as its physiochemical properties mean it can detect VOCs in minute quantities.

The research project will include the development and fabrication of lab-scale sensing devices and the initial evaluation of their sensing performance.


Yerbury brings wealth of experience to Sparc

As technical consultant in charge of Sparc’s new biomedical division, Yerbury brings to the company a wealth of experience across Australia, New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific region and Europe and their regulatory environments, which is key to commercialising products.

His experience includes a range of clinical specialties and technologies in fields including respiratory, cardiovascular, orthopaedics, general surgery and nephrology.

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

Sparc Technologies re-listed on the ASX in November after a successful $4m capital raising.


This article was developed in collaboration with Sparc Technologies, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing. 


This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.