Occuity is developing our technology platform to provide a safe, convenient and quick way to screen for a number of chronic diseases through a simple scan of the eye. Due to the size of the problem, we currently plan to focus on diabetes before then looking at Alzheimer's and other chronic diseases.
Alzheimer's Disease Screening
Similar to the diabetes diagnosis device, Occuity are also investigating applying our technology for use in the screening of Alzheimer's disease. In a similar manner in which the diabetes screening device is able to screen for fluorescing of AGE's in the eye, the Alzheimer's device will be screening instead for marker plaques within the lens allowing for much earlier diagnosis of the disease and subsequent treatment options.
As the scale of the diabetes problem grows, there is an increasing need for a convenient way to screen for diabetes and pre-diabetes.
Unfortunately, this currently requires an inconvenient blood test so can only be performed in a clinical setting. Those who don't know or suspect they have diabetes or pre-diabetes don't present themselves for these tests.
If caught early, pre-diabetes is reversible, however most people don't get tested until they present to their GP with full diabetes symptoms and/or are diagnosed as obese. Those who don't suspect issues may never be tested. With global obesity levels rising and linked to increases in Type2 diabetes, the costs associated with diabetes and its related complications to global health services - currently ~10% of all health spending - is unsustainable to the point that the WHO now classifies diabetes as a pandemic.
The Occuity team, together with their partners at the Royal Berkshire Hospital and the University of Bristol, have extensive experience in diabetes care instrumentation, diabetes clinical trials and advanced data processing techniques.
We have developed an optical confocal scanning technology that can detect the concentration of Advanced Glycation End-Products (AGEs) within the eye. This measurement can assess the risk of whether a person has, or is likely to develop diabetes. Blue light illuminates the eye and the returning scattered blue light and the green fluorescent light from the AGEs is detected. The test is completely non-contacting so can be performed in a non-clinical setting in a GPs surgery, a pharmacy, an optician's practice or even in a domiciliary setting such as a care home.
A 21st Century Solution
With nearly 1 million people living with diabetes in the UK, who don't even know it, and a further 17 million people with pre-diabetes who - without intervention - are likely to develop diabetes within 10 years, the need for a diabetes screening solution is clear.
Our vision is to use our platform to develop a pain-free, non-invasive test for diabetes that will be available in accessible high-street settings such as pharmacies and opticians.
The test will use a simple, pain-free scan of the eye, will take just a few seconds and give immediate results to indicate whether a person is non-diabetic, pre-diabetic or diabetic.
The test can be taken regularly to build to monitor potential disease progression or regression.
Building upon the existing patented technology platform proven within our ophthalmic devices, we intend to produce a compact, handheld AGE reader for evaluation in clinical trials to demonstrate that the technology is both clinically effective in screening for diabetes and pre-diabetes in a cost effective manner across the clinical pathway.
The Occuity Screening devices will not be simple measuring devices alone. Of equal importance is the development of data processing systems, harnessed with machine learning algorithms to handle and interpret the significant level of data that will be generated whilst screening and it is planned that with measurements taken at regular intervals, over a long period of time, the collected data can be used to assess the rate of progress of the disease and therefore the effectiveness of any treatment.
Alzheimer's Disease Screening
With an ageing global population, Alzheimer's disease is one of humanity's greatest healthcare challenges.
Currently, there is no time and cost-effective way to screen for Alzheimer's. Existing technology means a standard medical examination for Alzheimer's disease often includes expensive structural imaging with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT). However, primarily these tests are used to rule out conditions that may cause symptoms similar to Alzheimer's rather than diagnose Alzheimer's itself.
In some circumstances, a doctor may use brain imaging tools to find out if the individual has high levels of beta-amyloid, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s; normal levels would suggest Alzheimer’s is not the cause of dementia.
Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes Screening
Occuity is in the process of developing a non-contact handheld device that will have fluorescence capability to detect disease markers in the eye such as AGE’s (Advanced Glycation End-products) which build up in the eye over time. Coupled with machine learning techniques, the readings from this device will aim to give a diagnosis of whether the subject is non-diabetic, pre-diabetic or diabetic. Importantly, the device will be able to be used in a non-clinical environment making it ideal for use in pharmacies or even domiciliary environments such as care homes.
Research & Development Plans
Although a great deal more research and development is needed in this area, it is our intention, as part of our technology roadmap, to apply our technology for use in a device that enables screening in non-clinical settings such as pharmacies and care homes for the early signs of Alzheimer's.
Occuity plan to use our optical scanning technology to screen the eye for tell-tale beta-amyloid plaque marker proteins that are left behind as the Alzheimer's disease progresses. It is our hope that by studying subtle variations in the amount and distribution of these markers within different structures of the eye, that the early detection and monitoring of Alzheimer's can be made possible.