Forget windows to the soul, Occuity’s non-invasive smart diagnostic tech provides a window to health and wellness.
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Occuity has the multi-billion-dollar healthcare screening and monitoring markets in its sights. Having developed a novel, internationally patented, non-contact technology, the company is working toward improving the screening and monitoring of chronic health conditions and diseases of aging such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
Longevity.Technology: Occuity is developing a range of non-contact handheld devices aimed at some of the major health problems facing people today, including diabetes, Alzheimer’s and glaucoma; with tech for both clinic and personal use about to hit clinical trials, we found out more about these non-invasive devices that raise the diagnostic bar with CEO and Founder Dr Dan Daly, PhD, and Head of Digital Marketing Richard Kadri-Langford.
Founded in September 2019 with the assets bought-out from a company involved in industrial measurements with similar technology, Occuity had a clear direction from the beginning, Dr Dan Daly explains.
“We had the ambition to use that technology in medicine and to focus on addressing the major healthcare problems of our time, such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s, by using the eye as a window to the body that can tell you more about the general health of people,” he says. “Early detection is vital – the effects of diabetes, for example, are horrible and include blindness, foot ulcers, amputations, cardiovascular issues, as well as early death. In the UK alone, there are 17 million people with pre-diabetes who risk suffering from these issues if nothing is done to help them. Moving testing upstream – prevention rather than treatment – is key, and not just from a health point of view. We spend £14 billion annually treating diabetes, 11.5% of the NHS budget. When those with pre-diabetes develop diabetes, that will increase by tens of billions over the coming years; we just can’t afford it, and it’s a worldwide problem.”
Currently, most people with diabetes have to use invasive, finger stick tests to measure their blood glucose on a daily basis. People often avoid testing because it’s so inconvenient and damaging to the skin, and the tests also generate considerable waste. Although constant glucose monitoring (CGM) is now available, these platforms are still invasive.
Occuity’s optical glucose meter is a handheld device that will allow people to check their glucose levels through a simple scan of the eye; the handheld monitor will work by shining a low-power, invisible beam of light safely into the eye and measuring subtle changes within the anterior chamber in seconds. Instant analysis of blood glucose levels will be available from the device or will be pinged to the user’s smartphone for monitoring and tracking over time. Results could also be fed back to a clinician or integrated into other monitoring apps.
“The model is that you will simply hold it up to your eye and the device will give you a reading there and then, no pain, no embarrassment – much, much easier and no long-term damage from needles,” Daly explains. “Occuity is moving away from devices that look overtly ‘medical’ and towards an extension of personal electronic devices; we all carry a phone, and the optical glucose monitor will be designed to easily slip into a bag or pocket like a pen, allowing easy glucose monitoring wherever you are. It will be a personal device.”
Occuity’s emphasis on paying attention to the aesthetic design of their devices is thanks to the influence of Design Director, Daniele De Illuiis, who worked for over 27 years as part of the Industrial Design team at Apple.
“There’s a big interest in wellness monitoring – staying healthy, rather than becoming ill and then beginning treatment,” says Richard Kadri-Langford.
“More and more people are turning to glucose monitoring, whether it’s because they play sport, or using CGM for biohacking and monitoring their blood sugar to ensure they don’t spike,” he continued. “Real-time measurements mean people can effectively track their glucose levels.”
“The granular information the device provides is very useful to the individual, but by connecting it to a database, clinicians can react in a timely way, rather than just waiting for infrequent check-ups,” adds Daly. “And anonymised data can be channelled into larger sets, meaning a wider view – what treatment regimens work, what population trends are being affected – can be taken, helping to shape healthcare and governmental policy.”
Occuity also has a handheld pachymeter, the PM1, which is about to undergo clinical trials, and a health screening device currently under development. Pachymeters measure the thickness of the eye’s cornea and support a diagnosis of glaucoma. The current test, using ultrasound, is not a comfortable one as it is necessary to touch the eye. In contrast, Occuity’s PM1 pachymeter is non-invasive and requires less ‘chair-time’, but still provides an accurate measurement, being able to measure structures in the eye with a precision of less than 5 microns.
“We’ve taken existing, proven, telecoms technology and adapted it for our needs,” explains Daly. “It’s mass produced at a very low cost, is very compact, very cost-effective and very robust.”
The health screening device will also be handheld and will allow clinicians, pharmacists and opticians to screen for indications of many conditions, with diabetes being the initial target, but with Alzheimer’s disease and others in the pipeline. “Screening for diabetes markers within the lens will allow for much earlier diagnosis of the disease and subsequent treatment options,” explains Daly.
Occuity’s Intellectual Property includes nine granted international patent families covering the measurement technique and optical technology that forms the basis of the devices along with additional patents relating to the alignment and measurements within the eye; five further patents have also been filed recently. In addition, the data will be open source, allowing researchers to test additional interventions and treatments.
“Occuity is committed to better clinical outcomes,” concludes Daly. “Diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease – these conditions have an enormous impact on wellness, on health, on lifespan, and we are re-engineering tech to ensure earlier diagnosis can lead to enhanced treatment or even prevention. In short, our devices have the potential to improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people worldwide.”
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