The University of Coimbra (UC) signed a license agreement with Retmarker, a spin-off of the Critical Group, in the field of ophthalmology, on February 22nd 2017.
The agreement consolidates a partnership initiated in 2013 to create a technology with the objective of automatically identify retinal lesions in diabetic patients through the processing of ophthalmic images.
The UC was challenged by Retmarker to find solutions to a critical problem: to create an automatic technology capable of analyzing more efficiently retinal images in highly variable (and sometimes low quality) photographs, such as those obtained in Diabetic Retinopathy Screening.
Briefly, the collaboration aimed to integrate, in the Retmarker Screening solution, a new automatic method of detection of lesions in the retina. This method was developed by the team of Isabel Narra Figueiredo, from the Department of Mathematics, Faculty of Sciences and Technology of the University of Coimbra, within the framework of a research project funded by the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) and with the purpose of being used in Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Programs.
According to Isabel Narra Figueiredo, "this method automatically identifies, with a high degree of reliability, the existence of micro-aneurysms, hemorrhages and bright lesions in retinal images, which are the first symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy."
According to João Diogo Ramos, CEO of Retmarker: "Over the last few years, complementary studies have been carried out on the technology developed by UC, both by us (Portugal and Brazil) and in independent studies (UK), that have confirmed the efficiency of this new automatic method of screening that currently integrates our offer".
Retmarker Screening is a Portuguese technology that has stood out in the implementation of efficient ocular screening programs for diabetics. In practice, Retmarker does a first automatic screening of images that diabetic patients should perform each year to avoid ocular complications from Diabetic Retinopathy.
Diabetic Retinopathy is a complication of diabetes and the leading cause of preventable blindness in the Western world. It is a silent disease (without signs or symptoms) which can slowly progress to an advanced stage. The vast majority of cases of blindness can be avoided with good metabolic control and timely treatment (which requires the early identification of lesions in the retina).
According to Retmarker's CEO, "less than 10% of diabetics need to be referred for specialty consultation. Therefore there is a high investment of time and resources in identifying relevant cases and this is a problem where this new technology can help and justify Retmarker's bet."