Optina secures up to $2.6 million from Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos-backed foundation for Alzheimer’s discovery

The funding will be used to expand the number of Optina’s clinical study sites.

Montréal-based healthtech company Optina Diagnostics is set to receive up to $2.6 million CAD ($2.1 million USD) from the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF).

Founded in 2011, Optina’s mission is to change the process of how debilitating systemic diseases are diagnosed. Its first application, the awAIr cerebral amyloid status test, is a risk indicator for Alzheimers.

The company’s Retinal Deep Phenotyping platform combines a hyperspectral camera and AI-powered awAIr to identify subtle changes in the retina, via a one-second eye scan using a non-invasive digital camera. The retina is a light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the inner part of the eyes and can provide insights into neurological pathologies and other systemic diseases.

Optina’s financing comes from the ADDF’s Diagnostics Accelerator, a research initiative supported by ADDF’s co-founder Leonard A. Lauder, as well as Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Mackenzie Scott, the Dolby family, and the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, among others.

The funding will be used to support Optina’s study towards the FDA regulatory submission of the awAIr cerebral amyloid test. Specifically, the funding will enable the company to expand the study’s cohort size and accelerate the deployment of additional clinical study sites with the installation of the Retinal Deep Phenotyping platform at institutions.

The clinical study will take place across five sites in the United States, Canada, and Europe as Optina gears up for its plans to submit for an FDA regulatory approval for awAIr.

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“The ADDF created the Diagnostics Accelerator to support research into promising biomarkers that will play a crucial role in research, diagnosis, and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Howard Fillit, co-founder and chief science officer of the ADDF.

“A simple eye scan, such as the technology developed by Optina, has the potential to help with early, non-invasive detection of Alzheimer’s, which is essential to getting the right patients into trials and moving research forward,” he added.

In 2018, Optina partnered with Imagia to develop retinal biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease using spectral retinal images coupled with deep learning architectures.

Optina previously raised $24 million CAD in its Series A funding round led by DigitalDx Ventures with commitments from Desjardins Capital, Hike Ventures, Advisors Fund, MedTeq, and Biomed Propulsion.

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz is a journalism student at Ryerson University and a staff writer for BetaKit. Follow her on Twitter @charlizealcaraz

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