Eyenuk Receives NIH Grant to Expand AI Eye Screening Platform for Neurodegenerative Disease Detection

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LOS ANGELES—Eyenuk has been awarded a grant to develop a fully automated retinal image artificial intelligence (AI) solution for detection of biomarkers for neurodegenerative disorders. The grant is supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It supports a collaboration between Eyenuk and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers, to conduct research with the goal of developing ophthalmic screening tools for early detection of neurodegenerative disorders.

Eyenuk noted in an announcement that the retina holds great promise in the early identification of the subtle changes in the microvasculature associated with neurodegenerative disorders through a noninvasive eye examination. The retinal microvasculature shares embryological origins, anatomical features and physiological properties with the cerebral microvasculature. The retinal microvasculature can be easily and noninvasively captured on color fundus photographs.

Importantly, these structural vasculature changes in the eye can manifest themselves earlier than any functional changes commonly associated with age-related cognitive impairment, meaning that a simple eye examination can lead to an early diagnosis, which in turn opens the door to early intervention and delay or even prevention of disabling cognitive difficulties.

“Every 66 seconds someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s disease, and Alzheimer’s is already the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.,” said Kaushal Solanki, PhD, founder and CEO of Eyenuk. “We are convinced that AI will one day enable cost-effective and early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, similar to the way our fully automated EyeArt AI Eye Screening System detects diabetic retinopathy (DR) at high sensitivity based on noninvasively captured color fundus photographs.”

Oana Dumitrascu, MD, MSc, assistant professor of neurology, vascular neurologist and neuro-ophthalmologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, remarked “We are thrilled to partner with Eyenuk on this promising research. AI technologies are showing great potential to automatically and easily characterize structural retinal microvasculature biomarkers directly in primary care or community settings. This approach could lead to early detection and effective management of patients with cognitive and neurodegenerative disorders.”