RetiSpec funded to accelerate Alzheimer’s detection tech
October 16, 2019
TORONTO – RetiSpec Inc. announced it has received an award from the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) to fund the accelerated development of retinal imaging technology for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease. The award of up to $500,000 (U.S.) includes a direct investment in the company. It is an investment through the ADDF’s Diagnostics Accelerator initiative.
By harnessing hyperspectral imagery, RetiSpec’s technology allows for the rapid, simple and cost-effective identification of Alzheimer’s biomarkers years before the emergence of clinical symptoms.
In preclinical studies and a pilot human study, the retinal imaging technology was effective in detecting small changes in biomarkers associated with elevated cerebral amyloid beta levels early in the disease process, including before the onset of clinical symptoms. RetiSpec is currently collaborating with Toronto Memory Program, Canada’s largest Alzheimer’s clinical trial site, to validate the accuracy and usability of the technology in patients.
“We are focused on bringing to market a non-invasive, easy-to-use, screening technology that can change when and how we detect Alzheimer’s disease at its earliest stages including before a patient presents with symptoms,” said Eliav Shaked, CEO of RetiSpec. “Early detection provides an important window of opportunity for timely therapeutic interventions that can slow or even prevent the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. ADDF’s investment represents another point of external validation of the promise of our technology.”
Howard Fillit, M.D., founding executive director and chief science officer of ADDF, said, “We believe that RetiSpec’s retinal scanner stands out and shows promise as a unique diagnostic tool among a range of technologies in development. The technology has the potential to facilitate early diagnosis, improve the lives of patients and their loved ones and save the healthcare system money and resources. The technology will also be useful in making clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease more efficient.”
Sharon Cohen, M.D., neurologist and principal investigator at Toronto Memory Program, said, “Our patients voice a strong preference in favor of an eye scan for early diagnosis when compared with the discomfort, inconvenience and radiation exposure of a PET scan and the invasive nature of a spinal tap, the two current gold standards for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease.”
The retinal imaging technology was developed by Robert Vince, Ph.D., and Swati More, Ph.D., at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Drug Design. At the 20th International Conference on Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery hosted by the ADDF, Dr. More presented results from preclinical studies and a human pilot study. The technology was licensed to RetiSpec through the University’s Technology Commercialization to further develop the early detection technology for Alzheimer’s disease.
About the Diagnostics Accelerator
The Diagnostics Accelerator, created in July 2018, is a partnership of funders with funding commitments totaling nearly $50 million from partners, including ADDF co-founder Leonard Lauder, Bill Gates, Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos, the Dolby family, the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, among others, to develop novel biomarkers for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
About the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation
Founded in 1998 by Leonard A. and Ronald S. Lauder, the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation is dedicated to rapidly accelerating the discovery of drugs to prevent, treat and cure Alzheimer’s disease. The ADDF is the only public charity solely focused on funding the development of drugs for Alzheimer’s, employing a venture philanthropy model to support research in academia and the biotech industry. Through the generosity of its donors, the ADDF has awarded over $130 million to fund more than 600 Alzheimer’s drug discovery programs and clinical trials in 19 countries. To learn more, please visit http://www.alzdiscovery.org/
RetiSpec Inc. is a medical imaging company developing a tool for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers in the eye using machine learning. RetiSpec’s test is noninvasive, simple to administer and inexpensive compared to current practices. This advantage of accessible and scalable screening enables widespread early detection of Alzheimer’s disease pathology. The company is headquartered in Toronto, and is part of the Ontario Brain Institute (OBI), Biomedical Zone, NEXT Canada, Ontario Centre of Excellence and The Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation (CABHI)’s network of companies. For more information, visit https://www.retispec.com/