LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Imagine if the very first signs of dementia, before any significant memory or other physiological changes are apparent, could be identified via a simple eye exam. That possibility may be within reach now that Eyenuk Inc. has been awarded a grant to develop a fully automated retinal image artificial intelligence (AI) solution for detection of biomarkers for neurodegenerative disorders. Eyenuk, a global AI medical technology and services company and the leader in real-world applications for AI Eye Screening™, would like to thank the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) for their support and confidence. The grant supports a collaboration between Eyenuk and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers, to conduct research with the goal of developing ophthalmic screening tools for early detection of neurodegenerative disorders.
As the population ages and grows, the number of people at risk for dementia and other forms of age-related cognitive impairment is poised to increase dramatically, with more than 130 million people expected to be affected by 20501. Vascular disease is an important cause of dementia and cognitive decline in the elderly. Biomarkers that reflect structural changes in the retinal microvasculature have been shown to be indicative of the most commonly seen age-related cognitive disorders, including mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia.
The retina holds great promise in the early identification of the subtle changes in the microvasculature associated with neurodegenerative disorders through a noninvasive eye examination. The retinal microvasculature shares embryological origins, anatomical features and physiological properties with the cerebral microvasculature. The retinal microvasculature can be easily and noninvasively captured on color fundus photographs. Importantly, these structural vasculature changes in the eye can manifest themselves earlier than any functional changes commonly associated with age-related cognitive impairment, meaning that a simple eye examination can lead to an early diagnosis, which in turn opens the door to early intervention and delay or even prevention of disabling cognitive difficulties.
“Every 66 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease, and Alzheimer’s is already the sixth leading cause of death in the United States,” said Kaushal Solanki, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Eyenuk. “We are convinced that AI will one day enable cost-effective and early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, similar to the way our fully automated EyeArt® AI Eye Screening System detects diabetic retinopathy (DR) at high sensitivity based on noninvasively captured color fundus photographs.”
“We are thrilled to partner with Eyenuk on this promising research,” said Oana Dumitrascu, MD, MSc, assistant professor of neurology, vascular neurologist and neuro-ophthalmologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. “AI technologies are showing great potential to automatically and easily characterize structural retinal microvasculature biomarkers directly in primary care or community settings. This approach could lead to early detection and effective management of patients with cognitive and neurodegenerative disorders.”
Eyenuk will showcase its technologies at Booth #5220 at the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) Annual Meeting in San Francisco Oct. 12-15.
About Eyenuk Inc. (www.eyenuk.com)
Eyenuk Inc. is a global artificial intelligence (AI) medical technology and services company and the leader in real-world AI Eye Screening™ for autonomous disease detection and AI Predictive Biomarkers™ for risk assessment and disease surveillance. Eyenuk is on a mission to screen every eye in the world to ensure timely diagnosis of life- and vision-threatening diseases, including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, stroke risk, cardiovascular risk and Alzheimer’s disease.
Eyenuk’s first commercial product, the EyeArt® AI Eye Screening System, is the most extensively validated AI technology for autonomous detection of diabetic retinopathy (DR) to date, tested in real-world settings on more than a half-million patient visits globally with more than 2 million images collected. The EyeArt AI System allows diabetes care providers to identify patients with referable DR in clinic, in real time, without needing eye care expertise on-site, so at-risk patients can be immediately referred to an ophthalmologist for further evaluation and treatment. The EyeArt AI System was developed with funding from the NIH and is validated by the U.K. National Health Service (NHS). The EyeArt AI System has CE marking as a class IIa medical device in the European Union and a Health Canada license. In the U.S., the EyeArt AI System is limited by federal law to investigational use.
The grant announced here is supported by the NINDS of the NIH under Award Number R43NS110335. The content of this press release is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.
1 Shah H, Albanese E, Duggan C, et al. Research priorities to reduce the global burden of dementia by 2025. Lancet Neurol. 2016;15(12):1285-1294. doi:10.1016/S1474-4422(16)30235-6.