December 26, 2016 - Nikon Corporation (Kazuo Ushida, President, Tokyo; referred to below as “Nikon”) and its subsidiary Optos Plc (Robert Kennedy, CEO, United Kingdom; referred to below as “Optos”) today announced a strategic alliance with Verily Life Sciences LLC (Andy Conrad, CEO, United States; referred to below as “Verily”, formerly known as Google Life Sciences) in the field of machine learning-enabled retinal imaging. The companies will collaborate on creating technology and solutions for enhanced screening of diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema by diabetes-treating physicians and others to assist in efficient referral of patients to eyecare specialists, and provide these specialists with assisted reading programs for easier diagnosis of disease.
Diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema are leading causes of blindness among adults around the world, and improved access and screening rates can prevent disease progression and blindness. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of diabetic patients is increasing rapidly in many parts of the world, especially in low to middle income countries. As a result, the number of patients with vision impairment and the need to monitor these patients is also expected to grow.
Through an exclusive collaboration in numerous geographies, Nikon (including its subsidiary Optos) and Verily will co-develop solutions for the earlier detection of diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema. The partnership will combine Nikon's leadership in optical engineering and precision manufacturing, its proprietary ultra-widefield technology and strong commercial presence among eyecare specialists, and Verily’s machine learning technology. Together, Nikon and Verily will work to provide innovative medical solutions to assist physicians, and address a broad population of diabetic patients.
About diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema
Diabetic retinopathy is caused by progressive damage to the blood vessels of the retina. It is the most common eye disease among people with diabetes, and a leading cause of visual impairment and blindness among working-age adults. Without appropriate intervention, the disease can silently progress from early stage diabetic retinopathy when many patients are asymptomatic, to more severe stages when patients begin to experience vision loss, which often cannot be reversed.
Diabetic macular edema is a complication of diabetic retinopathy, caused by fluid accumulation in the eye. Early detection and intervention can significantly reduce the risk of permanent vision loss from these diseases, so effective screening of patients is crucial.
Optos is a leading retinal imaging company, acquired by Nikon in 2015. It’s core technology is ultra-widefield (UWF™) high resolution digital images (optomap®) which capture an image of approximately 82% and 200◦ of the retina, something no other device is capable of doing in a single image. Optos’ strong commercial presence among eyecare specialists will be leveraged in this project.
About Verily Life Sciences
Verily is a life sciences research and engineering organization focused on improving healthcare outcomes by applying the latest scientific and technological advances to significant problems in health and biology. By combining unparalleled capabilities in data organization and analytics services with robust scientific and product engineering expertise, Verily is targeting the dual objectives of creating tools and user-friendly platforms that capture a deeper and broader set of health data, and organizing the data so that it is useful and actionable. Verily partners with leading life sciences, medical device, and government organizations to leverage deep domain expertise and resources that enable exponentially faster development, meaningful advancements, and deployment at scale.
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