Columbia University licenses retinal imaging technology to PCAsso Diagnostics

Columbia University Science and Technology Ventures announced that it has signed a worldwide exclusive license agreement with PCAsso Diagnostics, LLC to develop and market a novel imaging technology for diagnosis of vascular leakage disorders of the retina.

The imaging technology, called Poly-Chromatic Angiography (PCA), provides quantitative information about vascular leakage. Having this information on hand is anticipated to help clinicians tailor treatments to the severity of the leakage.

One of the first applications of PCA that the company may pursue is diagnosis of certain retinal disorders caused by leaky blood vessels. One such condition, a complication of diabetes called diabetic retinopathy, affects more than 8 million Americans. Over time, diabetes damages the small blood vessels in the retina and the damaged vessels stop carrying enough blood. The retina reacts by secreting inflammatory mediators and other factors that cause leakage and accumulation of fluid in the central part of the retina, resulting in impaired vision.

Currently, vascular leakage in diabetic retinopathy is diagnosed by several methods, the most sensitive of which is fluorescein angiography (FA). FA provides only qualitative information about vascular leakage. Treatment of diabetic retinopathy can be more effective if ophthalmologists have a quantitative measurement method, as the degree of leakage is a good indicator of disease severity.

PCAsso Diagnostics, located in Bridgewater, New Jersey, was founded in 2008 by PCA inventor Samir Tari, MD. Dr. Tari first conceptualized PCA during his tenure as the Daniel Kirby Fellow at the Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. Clinical Research Center in Vision, the clinical research division of the Harkness Eye Institute at Columbia University Medical Center.

"I felt there was a great need for a better way to grade the disease, a more granular way, a way that has more science and less art." Dr. Tari said. "PCA will help ophthalmologists personalize treatment according to disease severity; so that patients with mild retinal diseases do not have to receive the same treatment as patients with severe ones."

Dr. Tari says that PCAsso Diagnostics plans to extend the use of PCA to help guide the treatment of other retinal disorders, such as wet age-related macular degeneration, uveitis, retinitis pigmentosa, retinal vein occlusions, macular edema following cataract surgery, and others. There are also potential applications of the technology for other diagnostic purposes beyond ophthalmology.

"With a wider range of clinical options comes a greater responsibility to ensure patients receive the treatment that best fits their diagnostic profile," said Ron Katz, the licensing officer who coordinated the agreement between STV and PCAsso. "We believe PCA may have significant potential to provide better information sooner in the disease process, which will help both doctors and patients better manage care of these life-altering conditions."

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