Medical tech start-up Occuity has secured £2.85m to develop a non-contact glucose meter, allowing people with diabetes to monitor their blood sugar levels through an eye scan.
The Berkshire-based company has raised the largest MedTech financing deal on crowdfunding platform Seedrs, having reached its original £1.8m target within 24 hours of launch to develop the ‘Occuity Indigo’ meter.
Comprising experts in optics, mechanical engineering and industrial design, the team is collaborating with industry and academic institutions including the Royal Berkshire Hospital and Bristol University.
While described as ‘ground-breaking’ in the context of diabetes management, investors were reportedly attracted by the potential usage of the company’s patented optical technology for a range of conditions including glaucoma, myopia and eventually, it is hoped, early detection of Alzheimer’s disease.
Occuity design director Daniele De Iuliis said that the way we monitor chronic diseases like diabetes has been routed in inconvenient, uncomfortable or painful and repetitive finger stick blood testing – whereas, in comparison, Occuity Indigo will be a discrete handheld product offering a ‘long overdue’ pain-free 21st century solution.
Optical confocal scanning technology allows precise measurements of structures within the eye, to be made down to micron level. This can detect the concentration of Advanced Glycation End-Products (AGEs) which build up in the eye over time.
Invisible ‘blue’ light illuminates the eye and the returning scattered blue light alongside green fluorescent light from the AGEs is detected. Coupled with machine learning techniques, the device’s readings can give an indication of whether the subject is non-diabetic, pre-diabetic or diabetic.
For glucose monitoring, Occuity Indigo will be based on the company’s core optical confocal scanning technology and will scan the eye’s aqueous humour within its anterior chamber. The aqueous humour is effectively filters out the red and white cells from blood. This means that levels of glucose found within it correlates well with that in the blood stream.
As the concentration of glucose in the eye changes, the way in which light travels through the eye – the refractive index – also changes. The Occuity Indigo will be able to detect this change and in turn determine the concentration of glucose in the blood.
“We’re delighted to have become the largest ever MedTech raise on Seedrs with over 850 investors from 37 countries, sharing our vision,” said Occuity CEO and co-founder Dr. Dan Daly.
“Diabetes is a growing, global problem and we believe our technology will enable health services throughout the world to monitor and screen for diabetes, improving the clinical outcomes for the hundreds of millions of people who are unaware they have pre-diabetes or diabetes.”