AI potential in medical imaging and diagnostics revealed

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, and collaborators at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, have developed image analysis and machine learning tools to detect AMD.

In a recent article in Nature Medicine, members of the team discuss the potential of such tools to be used clinically and applied to other image-based medical diagnoses as well.

In 2015, the APL’s Dr Philippe Burlina, PhD, a co-principal investigator for the project, and colleagues teamed up with the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute on ways to automate AMD diagnosis.

In published papers in the JAMA, they demonstrated that machine diagnostics using deep learning can match the performance of human ophthalmologists.

The team has also expanded its inquiry to characterise retinal layers as seen on OCT.

By | July 14th, 2018|Research|

US researcher receives $4.8m grant for stem-cell-based retina therapy

Dr Magdalene Seiler, PhD, a stem cell researcher at the University of California, Irvine, has received a $US4.8 million grant from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to continue developing a stem cell-based therapy for retinitis pigmentosa.

The therapy may also be applicable to macular degeneration.

Dr Seiler said: “Our goal is a treatment based on transplanting sheets of stem-cell derived retina, called retina organoids, to the back of the eye.”

Since 1995, Dr Seiler and her team have pursued promising research into the development and use of retinal sheet transplantation, using a unique patented implantation instrument and procedure that has demonstrated improvement in visual responses in four different retinal degeneration models.

“The aim is to replace damaged photoreceptors with the hope of re-establishing neural circuitry within the eye,” Dr Seiler said.

 

By | July 14th, 2018|Research|

DIY AMD checks

A team from Universitätsklinikum Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel, and Medical Laser Center in Lübeck, Germany, has developed a potential hand-held OCT device for home-monitoring of patients with retinal disease, including aged macular degeneration.

It’s early days yet, and the developers have had to make some compromises on image quality – the result is off-axis full-field time-domain OCT focused on reducing the scan area to 3 x 3 mm and using a full-field system which illuminates the whole field.

The 3 x 3 images provide good sensitivity and specificity for monitoring sub-retinal and intraretinal fluid volume, and the full-field approach increases visual quality.

The design is simple, needing only a standard light source – rather than swept-source – and a regular, low-cost USB camera.

Though the team is still in the research phase, they have tested their device – alongside spectral-domain (SD)-OCT – in 10 patients with retinal disease (including AMD and retinal vein occlusion), and have shown that it can acquire clinically-useful images.

The team says that even though the image quality is not quite as good as clinical OCT systems, the sub-retinal fluid does demark very well and the need for re-treatment is apparent.

It is planned to continue developing the device and to study its imaging capabilities in more patients by asking clinicians to grade both

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By | July 1st, 2018|Research|

Don’t fly blind when considering stem-cell treatments for eyes: RANZCO and SCA

Concerned about patients accessing stem-cell treatments for eye conditions that have not been subjected to appropriate clinical trials and approvals, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists and Stem Cells Australia, have joined up to launch an informative patient-information leaflet for people considering such treatments.

For a new stem-cell treatment, patients are advised to ensure it is part of an ethically-approved clinical trial.

The patient-information resource is designed to help patients make more-informed decisions about their eye care by encouraging them to ask five important questions about stem cells for eyesight before undergoing any form of stem cell treatment for ocular disease:

  • What are stem cells and how can they help?
  • What are the safety concerns?
  • Is there evidence that stem cell therapies work?
  • Stem cell treatments are still under investigation, so what does that mean for me?
  • How can I make an informed decision about my options?

Locally and internationally stem cell research is at the cutting edge and is attracting media attention. A recent Washington Post article, highlighted the fact that clinics are emerging offering high-risk procedures that are not yet scientifically proven:

RANZCO initiated the position paper identifying a role in guiding the Australian and New Zealand public around discriminating between evidence-based treatments and those that have not yet been

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By | June 24th, 2018|Research|

$150,000 additional funding for action plan on macular disease

The Australian government will provide $150,000 funding for the development of a national action plan to better support patients with macular disease, the leading cause of vision loss among older Australians, it was announced during Macular Degeneration Awareness Week.

The action plan will provide a streamlined approach to the treatment and management of the disease across Australia and will be a roadmap to deliver better outcomes for patients, federal health minister Mr Greg Hunt said when announcing the additional funding.
A Macular Disease Foundation Australia report released on 22 May shows Australia is a world-class leader in fighting macular disease.

Ground-breaking work 

The Journey to See: A Model for Success, highlights the ground-breaking work Australia has delivered over the last 10 years in the treatment and management of age-related macular disease, which is the leading cause of blindness and severe vision loss in Australia.
About one in seven Australians or 1.25 million people aged 50 years and over, show some evidence of macular degeneration. The disease also affects young people.
The government is addressing vision loss and blindness in our communities.
For example, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme subsidies several medications used in the treatment of aged-related macular disease. Since 2013 the government has spent $1.67 billion on medication for aged-related macular disease through the PBS.
Specific services in

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By | June 3rd, 2018|Research|

Freckles on iris indicate high risk of melanoma: QUT research

University of Queensland researchers have found that freckles and moles appearing on the iris indicate a high risk of melanoma, particularly in people under 40 years of age.

Dermatology Research Centre’s Associate Professor Rick Sturm said the presence of pigmented lesions was an effective predictor of the risk of melanoma that complemented traditional factors.

“We found the presence of three or more iris pigmented lesions was associated with a 45 percent increased risk of melanoma,” Dr Sturm said.

“This association was particularly strong in people under 40.

“The presence of iris freckling and naevi (moles), provides additional information about an individual’s melanoma risk over and above factors like blue eyes, red hair, fair skin and the number of moles on the skin.”

The study, involving Professor Peter Soyer and Dr Antonia Laino, involved 1117 participants of European background living in South-East Queensland.



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By | January 21st, 2018|Research|

AHPRA establishes National Scheme research framework to improve patient safety

National Boards governing 14 health-care-practitioner groups, including medicine and optometry, and their supervising Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency have published a research framework to help transform health-practitioner regulation to improve patient safety.

The framework sets out research priorities and principles for National Boards and AHPRA to focus their research efforts and guide the use of National Scheme data and information

Nationally significant dataset

The National Scheme holds a nationally-significant dataset, including data on more than 670,000 health practitioners across the 14 professions (soon to be 15 professions in 2018 when paramedicine joins).

“Our data and research infrastructure has been steadily maturing over the past few years and we are now better able to translate the outcomes of research and evaluation activities into developments that will have significant benefits for patients and practitioners“ Mr Martin Fletcher, chief executive officer of AHPRA, said.

“This new research framework ensures we continue to contribute to patient safety and brings us closer to becoming a global leader in regulatory research.”

Priority research areas

The framework includes the priority research areas of: defining harms and risks related to the practice of regulated health professions, regulatory taxonomy or classification scheme, risk factors for complaints and/or poor practitioner performance, evidence for standards, codes and/or guidelines, evaluating regulatory interventions, stakeholder satisfaction and engagement, work readiness and workforce

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By | January 21st, 2018|Research|

Driving more than 25,000 miles a year is third most dangerous job: UK study

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has ranked driving more than 25,000 miles per year the third most dangerous job in the United Kingdom behind deep sea diving and coal mining, Optician reports.

And a quarter of British people who drive for work are not having regular eye tests, new research conducted on behalf of Vision Express has found.

The YouGov research also showed that 6 per cent of drivers had not had an eye examination in at least ten years and 2 per cent admitted to never having their eyes examined.

Of the research respondents, 13 per cent stated they would not inform the driving licence authority if their eyesight was too poor to drive, with 39 per cent saying their job would be at risk if their eyesight did not meet minimum requirements for driving. The research highlighted the potential danger those drivers pose to other road users.

Mr Jonathan Lawson, Vision Express chief executive officer, said: “Many don’t realise that changes in sight can be gradual, and it’s possible to lose up to 40 per cent of your vision before even noticing. Tellingly, the vast majority (93 per cent) of drivers in our research believed they did meet the legal eyesight requirement for driving, yet over half (56 per

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By | December 22nd, 2017|Research|

British College of Optometrists research identifies weaknesses in eye-health data

A lack of public health data on the prevalence of eye conditions in the United Kingdom is affecting the ability to adequately plan and meet eye-health needs, according to the College of Optometrists, Optician reports.

Despite an increasing amount of clinical data being held electronically in optometry-practice systems, the Ophthalmic Public Health Research Project found that data is not organised in a way that can be easily used for research and service-planning purposes.

The project was undertaken by the college to collate existing research and improve understanding of ophthalmic public health by optometrists. It was also hoped that the study would help to engage government and policy makers on eye health issues.

Researchers have now recommended a minimum dataset containing standard clinical information that could be used to facilitate analysis of the evidence for public health purposes and identify trends and areas of need in optometry practice.

Mike Bowen, director of research at the college, said: “The project has provided an important benchmark about what information is currently available, and allows for more extensive projects, such as the National Eye Health Survey, to provide the additional data needed to understand the nation’s eye health needs.”

By | December 22nd, 2017|Research|

Critical trigger found for AMD

Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine in the United States have discovered a critical trigger for the damaging inflammation of macular degeneration.

Dr Jayakrishna Ambati, vice-chairman for research of UVA’s Department of Ophthalmology and the founding director of UVA’s Center for Advanced Vision Science, and Nagaraj Kerur, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Ophthalmology, and their laboratories have determined that an enzyme called cGAS plays an important role in the body’s immune response to infections by detecting foreign DNA. But the molecule’s newly identified role in the dry form of AMD was unexpected.

Dr Ambati said: “For the first time, we know in macular degeneration what is one of the very first events that triggers the system to get alarmed and start, to use an anthropomorphic term, hyperventilating.

“This overdrive of inflammation is what ultimately damages cells, and so, potentially, we have a way of interfering very early in the process.”

The researchers noted that cGAS may be an alarm not just for pathogens, but for other harmful problems that warrant responses from the immune system. The enzyme may also play important roles in conditions such as diabetes, lupus, and obesity, and researchers already are working to create drugs that could inhibit its function.

By | December 4th, 2017|Research|