Electronic eye trial brings hope for blindness cure
Patients suffering from retinitis pigmentosa (RP) have been given renewed hoped for a cure today after trials of an electronic eye implant were a great success.
According to scientists, for the patients that received the electronic microchips, useful vision was being restored only weeks after they were fitted.
The technology was developed by Retina Implant AG, a leading developer of subretinal implants and the trial took place in the UK.
The scientists involved in the experiment said it had “exceeded expectations.”
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In mid-April two patients with RP were fitted with the microchips and immediately afterwards they were able to detect light.
More testing revealed that they were also able to identify white objects when they were set against a dark background.
Their progress will continue to be monitored over the coming months and 10 more RP sufferers are also going to be fitted with the electronic microchips as part of the trial.
It is being led by two British eye experts.
Tim Jackson is a consultant retinal surgeon at King's College Hospital in London while Robert MacLaren is a professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Oxford and a consultant retinal surgeon at the Oxford Eye Hospital.
Commenting on the trial and the effectiveness of the microchips, they said: "The visual results of these patients exceeded our expectations.
“This technology represents a genuinely exciting development and is an import step forward in our attempts to offer people with RP a better quality of life.”
Meanwhile, David Head from the charity RP Fighting Blindness, added: “The completion of the first two implants in the UK is very significant and brings hope to people who have lost their sight as a result of RP.”
Testing for this type of technology - subretinal implants – has been taking place for six years in the UK and Europe and following this latest success there are plans to seek commercial approval for the implants.
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Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool
An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system.
NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion.
Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making.
In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog.
Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening.
DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.
Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges.
"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”