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Eye health firm raises millions for Alzheimer’s test

US eye health company NeuroVision Imaging has announced a Series C financing round of US$15 million (AU$20.14 m) to generate investment in its eye test for Alzheimer’s disease.

The financing round has an initial close of US$11.2 million (AU$15.22 m), and will provide support for NeuroVision as it seeks validation and regulatory approval for its low-cost, noninvasive, eye imaging system.

The company says the system is able to measure retinal autofluorescence that can detect amyloid beta (Aβ) plaque in the eye, which has been identified as a hallmark sign of the debilitating brain disease.

“We’re very pleased to announce this new round of financing and the confidence it represents from organisations dedicated to the development of innovative healthcare tools and solutions. Each participant in this round represents potential future strategic opportunities for the company as we move towards commercialisation,” NeuroVision CEO Mr Steven Verdooner said.

"We’re very pleased to announce this new round of financing and the confidence it represents from organisations dedicated to the development of innovative healthcare tools and solutions."
Steven Verdooner, CEO of NeuroVision

Positron emission tomography, or PET scans, and cerebrospinal fluid analysis are currently used to detect amyloid for clinical trials and as an aid in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

However, these procedures are invasive, inconvenient and costly for clinical trial recruitment, while at the same time impractical for routine screening, disease monitoring and evaluation of therapy response.

According to one of the participants in the most recent round of investing, Eyefinity president Mr Steve Baker, the system is also valuable insofar as it is able to detect signs of neurodegenerative disease earlier than current methods. “In the end, this is about leading to better health outcomes and more coordinated patient care,” Baker said.

“We believe NeuroVision’s technology represents a great opportunity for optometry, underscoring the critical role the eye doctor plays within an increasingly integrated healthcare system. We are proud to support and work with NeuroVision in the eyecare industry.”

Previous studies have found that the Aβ plaque that accumulates in the brain of people with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, also builds up in the retina and shares similar plaque structure and other characteristics.

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This is because the retina is a developmental outgrowth of the central nervous system and shares many of the brain’s characteristics, enabling the potential for amyloid detection from retinal imaging.

This breakthrough was originally discovered by a team at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, led by Dr Keith L. Black and Professor Maya Koronyo-Hamaoui. NeuroVision, which is owned by Cedars-Sinai, holds the exclusive worldwide licence to the technology.

Image courtesy: Pixabay | Mikegi

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