A university spin-out is raising finance for the market launch of its ‘unique’ optical technology for the rapid screening of eye diseases.

MuMac’s first product was developed to improve the health of a growing and ageing population, and it is hoped funding will support R&D activities in ophthalmology diagnostics.

Based in Manchester, the firm is ready to commercialise the RapiDA instrument, which provides a fast test that can detect early-stage Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) – often before any obvious biological changes can be detected with imaging devices.

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AMD is a medical condition which may result in blurred or no vision, and it can affect vision in low light levels such as night driving.

MuMac chief executive Dennis Camilleri says investment will allow its three founders to scale-up the RapiDA and start trading with opticians on the high street as well as hospital clinics within weeks.

He hopes it should result in a number of other instruments being created for a range of eye tests.

Camilleri said: “People are now living longer and AMD is right up there in causing vision impairment in certain age groups, with around 2.5 million sufferers in the UK alone.

“Globally it is forecast that nearly 200 million people will have AMD by 2020.

“MuMac, which follows years of research by founding University academics Dr Ian Murray, now MuMac chief scientific officer and Dr Jeremiah Kelly and David Carden, is meeting a healthcare need through the launch of RapiDA.

“The product, which is patented and has its IP, is small, user-friendly and can perform a screening and identify early-stage AMD in 5-10 minutes.”

At the early onset of AMD there are often no symptoms. As AMD progresses, however, some people experience a gradual worsening of vision.

Dry AMD is the most common type of AMD and it is caused by aging and the thinning of tissues of the Macula region of the eye.

Former physicist and optical engineer Camilleri has managed technology start-ups through to exit stage over the past 35 years.

He added: “It’s estimated that 200,000 ophthalmologists and optometrists are potential users of the RapiDA.

“On top of that, the ophthalmic diagnostics market is forecast to grow to US$3.6 billion by the end of 2025.

“All this makes it a very exciting time for MuMac and our RapiDA product.

“There are of course competing technologies for all sorts of retinal diseases, but ours for AMD is fast and accurate.

“It’s also small and affordable, which is very important, as the first question optometrists always ask is how big the product is because space in their retail outlets is very much at a premium.”

Following investment MuMac will finish off the RapiDA design for manufacture, then start marketing and selling the product to end-users.

UMI3 Ltd, The University of Manchester’s agent for technology transfer, has supported the research over the past three years and will soon transfer all the IP into the company.