VisionQuest Biomedical Inc. and the University of New Mexico School of Medicine have been awarded a three-year $3 million grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to complete the clinical validation of a new technology to detect early signs of diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN), also known as “diabetic foot.”
Dr. Peter Soliz (PhD), founder and chief technology officer of VisionQuest, says, “Our patented technology for detecting early signs of peripheral neuropathy will fundamentally change how physicians manage this severe complication of diabetes. This system will complement our already successful EyeStar system for the detection of diabetic retinopathy and will allow us to screen for multiple diabetes complications in one visit.” Dr. Mark Burge (MD), deputy director of the University of New Mexico’s Clinical & Translational Science Center (CTSC) and co–principal investigator on this project, adds, “A simple test that can be performed by the primary care physician in the clinic and which is highly sensitive and specific does not currently exist. This device will fill an important gap in providing comprehensive care to individuals diagnosed with diabetes.”
Diabetes affects 34.2 million people in the United States, or 10.5 percent of the population. The Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy estimates that over 70 percent of people diagnosed with diabetes have developed DPN, a painful complication of diabetes that leads to loss of sensation, foot ulcers, and nearly 54,000 amputations per year.
Current screening methods cannot reliably detect the early stages of DPN, when preventative care can improve outcomes. VisionQuest’s fully automated, noninvasive system analyzes real-time thermal video of changing temperatures on the bottom of the foot to produce highly sensitive and consistent measurements of blood flow that can be used for diagnosis in primary-care clinics and do not require interpretation. The device and technique were awarded a US patent in 2014.
Through this NIDDK grant, VisionQuest will complete the clinical validation needed to pursue clearance by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to bring the device to market in the United States. Now more than ever, VisionQuest is committed to expanding access to health care for populations living with chronic diseases in the United States and around the world.
About VisionQuest Biomedical Inc.: VisionQuest develops and delivers innovative artificial intelligence–based imaging technologies that increase access to health care for the people who need it the most. We serve patients and providers in the most efficient and cost-effective ways possible. Dr. Soliz founded VisionQuest in 2007 to develop AI techniques that could be used by health-care professionals to evaluate digital medical photographs, specifically retinal images that showed evidence of diabetic retinopathy—the most common complication of diabetes and the leading cause of blindness in the working-age population—and other pathologies. In the United States, VisionQuest has established a network of clinics in which to study computer-based detection of retinal pathologies. In Mexico our EyeStar software is used to screen patients for diabetic retinopathy. In the sub-Saharan country of Malawi, VisionQuest is applying retinal screening to the detection of malarial retinopathy.
About The University of New Mexico Clinical & Translational Science Center: UNM’s CTSC supports high quality collaborative translational science locally, regionally, and nationally; fosters scientific and operational innovation to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of clinical translational research; and creates, provides, and disseminates domain-specific translational science training and workforce development. It is committed to bettering health by streamlining science, transforming training environments, and improving the conduct, quality, and dissemination of research from laboratories to clinical practice, and out into communities. This prestigious designation ensures New Mexico remains a leader in the biomedical research field. It also fuels our culture of scientific discovery and its impacts on health.