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Manchester Scientist Shines In BioNow Awards

Dr Christian Zakian from the School of Dentistry at The University of Manchester has been awarded a prestigious accolade for his pioneering work in the biomedical field.

Christian claimed the ‘Promising Northwest Biomedical Technologist of the Year’ at the North West Biomedical Awards for his work on an invention that allows mapping of carious lesions in the teeth. The Awards, which are organised by BioNow, examine the best emerging talent in the region and reward excellence in the sector.

The novel approach of using defined wavelengths of light to build an image of each tooth allowing dentists to not only determine that decay is present but how deep that decay extends. To date, available techniques are either not sensitive enough to early stages of the disease, such as x-rays, or are limited by the presence of stain in teeth. This method is non-invasive and can assist dentists to monitor the disease progression, resulting in a more informed approach to treatment. In contrast to other optical techniques this innovation provides a picture of the whole tooth and not just a single point; this is useful to reveal the precise location of the decay and helping to decide whether drilling is required and where. The images produced are clear and bright and offer an opportunity for patient involvement in the treatment decision making processes.

Led by Christian, his research team applied for Proof-of-Principle funding from UMIP to bring the project forward, which was subsequently granted. Christian is part of a multi-disciplinary research group (Dental Health Unit) led by Prof. Roger Ellwood and Dr. Iain Pretty and formed by scientists and dentists who focused on coordinating clinical trials and developing next generation dental diagnostic instruments.

UMIP licensing manager, Dr Lizzie Crawford, commented on the awards: “The investment from UMIP allowed Christian to go from strength to strength, transcending his daily role as a research assistant to head up a team that includes, a technician and a research assistant. Christian’s ability to commercialise and drive his product forward at such an early stage in his career is testament to his tenacity and confidence in his invention and this was a view that was clearly shared by the judging panel.”

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