|[ HOME ]||
Science for Peace Project 974292
Dr. Andrey Larichev, IPLIT and Moscow State University, Shartura, Russia Dr. Leonard John Otten, Kestrel Corporation, Albuquerque, USA
The overall objectives of the high resolution fundus imager grant was to demonstrate that a combination of advanced optical correction technologies and an optimised image processing technique could be used to increase the resolution in a camera used to examine the human retina, that the information would improve the level of ophthalmologic healthcare, and that the resulting advances would initiate continuing research and product development for commercial purposes. These objectives were all successfully accomplished.
Under the SfP Grant, the theory was used to develop a specialized sensor to measure the aberrations within the eye and to then correct these by applying a correction to an imaging sensor in a very short period of time (1/30th of a second). When coupled to a standard fundus camera, such as found in virtually all ophthalmic clinics, this specialized sensor provides very high resolution images of the retina, Figure 1. The quality of these images showed for the first time in a living human eye features that had previously only been observed in dissected organs, Figure 2. The implications of this are only now being understood but, as an example of the eventual application, during some of our laboratory examinations lesions were located on a subject that had not been observed during normal ophthalmic examinations, thus allowing the individual to receive treatment that resulted in the vision in that eye being saved.
The impact of this research on the Partner country has produced both immediate and longer term results. Individual participants have published over 10 technical articles on the work and, because of this, are now recognized as a leading international research team in the field of ophthalmic imaging. A US $950,000 grant from the National Eye Institute was awarded in 2002 to continue the research and to construct the first clinical prototypes of the device originally developed under SfP sponsorship.
Development of this second generation device is now being accomplished jointly by the Partner and NATO country participants, taking advantage of the knowledge and capability acquired during the SfP program. Contracts that account for over 17% of the primary participating Partner country institute’s annual budget have been placed for modelling, design, and fabrication of components for the second generation device. Perhaps more importantly, the SfP research has resulted in orders for equipment components developed in conjunction with the grant being received by the Partner country participants from within Russia, European, and United States sources.
To date, these include the innovative light sources that are used to safely illuminate the eye now being part of four clinical instrument development programmes in the United States; versions of the device that measures the aberrations in the eye being used in research programs within Russia and the United Sates; adaptive optics elements being fabricated and distributed for use in the United Sates, Germany, Switzerland, and England; and the modified ophthalmic instrument finding use in research and limited production efforts in the United States and England, Figure 3.
As a side note, the use of these ophthalmic instruments represent the first time such a device has ever been used in the West which is a direct result of the SfP Grant sponsoring the testing of the high resolution instrument in the United States. This in turn allowed the participants to obtain United States approval to import the devices for medical research, a major hurdle that must be overcome in medical instrumentation.
Taken in total, the direct follow on support, and its related activities, has created a new hardware development capability within the Partner country institutes that participated in the Grant. An unexpected side benefit from using Partner country hardware developed under the Grant has been exposure of the equipment manufactures to United States customers. Overall, US $2,200,000 worth of commercial and research work has been generated within the first year after completing the Grant with expectations of sustaining this at the US $750,000 per year level over the next four years, Figure 4.
A final benefit to the Partner country was the awarding of several US patents on the device developed during the research and a closely related set of patents based on using a number of the components developed under SfP Grant sponsorship. These patents not only protect the intellectual property but put in place a method where the Partner country institutes can participate in a royalty stream as the technology emerges into the commercial market.
When taken in total, SfP Grant 974292 met its technical, business, and political objectives. A new ophthalmic instrument has been introduced into the medical research community. More importantly, a new line of development and manufacturing has been started in the Partner country with business and technical research links that would not have been possible without the SfP Grant. And, lastly, strong technical and business ties have been established between researchers and manufactures in the United Sates and Russia that would not have existed without the NATO SfP sponsorship.