The Centre of New Technologies for Medicine (CNTM) develops new medical diagnostic techniques with special emphasis on the area of eye fundus imaging.
The prevalence of eye diseases leading to vision loss such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma is increasing globally as the numbers of older people increase in populations around the world. Until recently, medical science had little to offer but with the advent of new medical therapies more patients are given the hope of slowing or arresting visual decline, and in some situations it is now even possible to recuperate the vision loss.
Fundus imaging is needed for early and accurate diagnosis, to guide the initiation of therapy and to evaluate the response to therapy of retinal diseases. The eye is also viewed as a window to the body. New developments in fundus imaging offer new and particularly attractive perspectives for predicting development of systemic diseases such as coronary heart disease and stroke. Non-invasive fundus imaging to evaluate the entire human circulation is a major goal of the ongoing research projects of this unit, side-by-side with the use of the eye as a window for the brain.
CNTM has developed the concept of Multimodal Macula Mapping and has been developing new tools to correlate information obtained from sequential fundus imaging and automatic lesion detection.
The ultimate goal of CNTM is innovation in eye imaging and transfer these technological innovations to Industry and, therefore, to the market. The excellence of the work developed in CNTM is well demonstrated by past and present partnerships with Industry namely with Critical Health (Portugal), Pfizer Global (USA) and Carl Zeiss Meditec (USA), and by frequent publications in peer reviewed international scientific journals.
The process of technology transfer is really initiated by innovation at the laboratory level well before the development of applications that can be tested in patients. Laboratory research, at the molecular and experimental animal levels, is also being performed and has already led to R&D contracts with OM Pharma (Switzerland) and BIAL (Portugal).
The work developed in CNTM led to the following international patents:
- Ocular Fluorometer for Clinical Use, US Patent n.º 6,013,034
- Method and Apparatus for Measuring Quantity of a Fluorochrome in a Biological Environment, WO/2008/067525
- System for Analysing Ocular Fundus Images, US Patent n.º 7,856,135
This Centre pursues the characterisation and validation of new technologies, as well as the construction of prototypes in different phases of development, inspection and calibration of opto-electronical medical devices. For this purpose, it has certified and calibrated equipment with NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) traceability.
CNTM permanent staff includes a director, four software development technicians, an information technology (IT) manager and three data processing/IT support technicians. Four medical and two engineer consultants and an administrative assistant also collaborate in CNTM activities.
This Unit houses the information infrastructure of AIBILI and is responsible to guarantee the safety and integrity of the data collected to exchange internationally a large amount of data, variety of images and exams, all in compliance with GCP data management in multinational clinical trials. It is also applying for Data Centre Certification in 2013.