Software that can detect life-threatening conditions from a simple eye examination could be a step closer after a University spinout project won funding from Scottish Enterprise.
The Multiple Disease Screening from Retinal Imaging project, a joint initiative between the University of Edinburgh and the University of Dundee, has received £176,000 funding from Scottish Enterprise’s High Growth Spinout Programme (HGSP).
Edinburgh and Dundee researchers aim to develop a unique screening tool for conditions such as heart disease and dementia as well as sight-threatening diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.
The project will be led jointly by Dr Tom MacGillivray of the University of Edinburgh and Professor Emanuele Trucco of the University of Dundee, following more than 15 years of collaborative research.
It will draw from a suite of image analysis software known as VAMPIRE (Vascular Assessment and Measurement Platform for Images of the Retina), which the researchers have jointly developed to facilitate clinical research in this field.
The software suite provides measurements of retinal blood vessels from images of the back of the eye that can then be used to investigate vessel health elsewhere in the human body.
The HGSP funding will enable the team to investigate customer needs and the potential to develop the first commercial product stemming from the VAMPIRE research.
The two researchers have been working with their respective university commercialisation services, Edinburgh Innovations and Dundee’s Research and Innovations Services team, on plans that could significantly benefit the work of healthcare professionals.
“Our ambition is to form a spinout company delivering real-world solutions to key healthcare problems impacting on our society.
“As well as contributing to healthcare, we expect to create employment opportunities in Scotland, in software and data analysis.
“The success we’ve had to date shows the benefits of Scottish universities working together.”
– Dr MacGillivray, Senior Research Fellow at the Edinburgh Clinical Research Facility and the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, University of Edinburgh.
“VAMPIRE has already proven effective as a means of identifying health problems in academic studies.
“This backing from Scottish Enterprise is significant in allowing us to take our research from the laboratory to the public realm, and we hope that the software will form an integral part of a person’s visit to the optician in the near future.”
– Emanuele Trucco, NRP Chair of Computational Vision in Computing, University of Dundee.