Check Up: Japan’s startup OUI wants to halve the world’s blindness with its smartphone device
Health & Biotech
Health & Biotech
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The nation that invented QR codes, bullet trains and manga continues to innovate on a global level.
Japan’s latest medical startup, OUI Inc, says it wants to reduce blindness worldwide by 50% by 2025.
Although it might sound a bit ambitious, the company might just have the innovation to back it up.
OUI’s invention revolves around its patented Smart Eye Camera (SEC) product, an ophthalmology medical device that can diagnose eye diseases including trachoma and cataract.
The device can be attached to a smartphone where it’s used to observe the eyelid, cornea, anterior chamber, iris, lens, and anterior vitreous – basically doing all the things a conventional slit-lamp microscope would.
The company says it can be used by anyone, anytime, anywhere to perform eye examinations.
In terms of market size, the number of blindness worldwide is approximately 44 million, and is expected to to triple in 30 years.
More than half of eyesight losses are due to cataracts, which can be restored with early, proper diagnosis, and appropriate treatments.
The device can also evaluate the severity of several other ophthalmic diseases such as dry eye disease, allergic conjunctival disease, and anterior chamber depth.
The Smart Eye Camera is equipped with a high-precision 3D printer. With no need for batteries and minimal moving parts, it is durable and can be carried anywhere.
The disruptive device is currently being used in more than 25 developing countries worldwide, including Kenya, Zambia, Indonesia and Mongolia.
“Of course, we faced many technical hurdles in the course of development, but they weren’t a big deal for us because our desire to provide access to ophthalmologists for as many people as possible was very strong,’’ CEO and co-founder, Eisuke Shimizu told Bloomberg.
On the ASX, a handful of healthcare companies also have diagnostics products that are installed or attached on a smartphone.
In Australia, the now unlisted ResApp is probably the most successful smartphone-based healthcare company, ever.
In October, ResApp’s shares were acquired by global pharma Pfizer in a deal worth $179 million.
ResApp has built an app that can diagnose respiratory diseases like pneumonia, asthma, and even Covid by analysing a patient’s cough.
ResApp’s technology is able to identify the exact disease behind coughing patterns due to the different ways viruses affect the lungs.
In asthma for example, the virus constricts the airway forcing it to get tighter and narrower which causes the wheezing sound.
With pneumonia, you get fluid buildup that causes inflammation in the lungs’ air sacs.
And with Covid, the SARS virus attacks the lungs in a very unique way like a sonar ping, which bounces around causing a distinct coughing sound.
When the Pfizer acquisition was announced, ResApp was in the middle of clinical trials for Covid-19.
Medibio is a health tech company that’s innovating in the early detection and screening of mental health conditions.
After 25 years of research, Medibio launched its stress tracking mobile app, ‘LUCA’, to identify the true causes of stress in individuals.
The personalised technology was developed by Medibio’s neuroscience team and offers insights into how individual characteristics like personality and emotional intelligence shape responses to stress.
The app also offers tools and cognitive exercise programs to develop solutions tailored to the individual.
Medibio is currently seeking additional business opportunities to satisfy American markets.
The company recently announced the commencement of a clinical trial into the relationship between mental illnesses and sleep disturbances.
PainChek has a patented algorithmic-based device to measure the level of pain experienced by non-verbal older people and infants.
The cloud-connected app device comes up with a pain score that measures things such as facial expression, behaviour, body movements and, when possible, vocalisation.
The technology has proven itself in the market, especially in the aged care sector.
A global study estimated that up to 80% of residents living in nursing homes experience chronic pain, with half of all residents living with dementia often unable to reliably verbalise their pain.
PainCek’s app, called the PainChek Universal, encapsulates everything into one digital environment, and can be used in both home care, hospitals and aged care residences.
Volpara was one of the best performers for the month, up 45%, after recording five new contracts with a combined value of NZ$12.3m.
The company signed five 5-year contacts with some of the US’s leading healthcare providers: Bon Secours Mercy Health, Northside Hospital, Adventist Health, Duly Health and Care, and Onsite Women’s Health.
A 5-year renewal contract secured with Centura Health represents a further US$887K in TCV (total contract value).
PharmAust’s Phase 1/2 Motor Neurone Disease (MND) clinical trial has successfully completed its first patient cohort.
PharmAust’s Monepantel (MPL) was well tolerated by all MND patients at the first dosing level, with all of six patients in cohort 1 electing to continue on MPL treatment.
Patient recruitment at the next dosing level expected to begin later this month.
Safety and efficacy data from the trial will also be used to facilitate a Phase 2 study in COVID-19 patients.
PIQ gained US approval for its PromarkerD test for diabetic kidney disease.
The CPT PLA (Proprietary Laboratory Analyses) code has been issued by the American Medical Association, and was a key approval in getting reimbursement coverage of the PromarkerD test by both Medicare and private health insurers in America.
The approval is significant in the commercialisation of the test in the US market.
PIQ has also signed a letter of intent with Sonic Healthcare (ASX:SHL) to use the test in their US labs, which has been extended until the end of January.
M7T signed up Nasdaq-listed Akumin Inc, an outpatient radiology service provider in the US, as a new customer to deploy its entire cloud-based enterprise imaging platform.
The total contract value is ~$16.7 million, which will be staged annually across the life of the contract with $7.5m of that expected to be recognised in FY23.
Annual support fees will be weighted to the second half of the contract term.