Saturday, July 20, 2024

PhD student eyes disease detection breakthrough

New eye imaging software technology developed by a Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha University of Canterbury (UC) student could help identify eye problems and 50 other diseases, including diabetes and cancer.

Krzysztof Maliszewski, a Master of Physics and Computer Science graduate who is now studying towards a PhD, has developed software that improves the quality of images provided by optical coherence tomography (OCT), a light-based imaging technique that is used in ophthalmology.

OCT is already a popular method in eye diagnostics, but Krzysztof says the current quality of images is limited.

The new software uses artificial intelligence to provide higher definition images. This will allow medical professionals to provide patients with a more reliable and earlier medical diagnosis.

“Around the world there are about 200 million preventable cases of visual impairments and 200,000 children under the age of 15 living with undiagnosed cancer each year, along with 100,000 New Zealanders living with undiagnosed diabetes. We believe our product would make eye examinations more accessible and more accurate,” Krzysztof says.

He founded the company with his wife and business partner Dr Sylwia Kolenderska, a physicist specialising in OCT. Originally from Poland, they have now lived in Aotearoa New Zealand for six years and have high hopes for the country that has been ranked 5th in Forbes’ list of Best Countries for Business

Their long-term goal is to make early eye diagnostic tools more accessible to the wider population. Using their software, they hope to produce a cheaper portable OCT device which can be easily available in general practice clinics.

Krzysztof has been taking part in UC’s Summer Startup Programme, an opportunity for students to fast-track innovative business ideas with 10 weeks of expert mentoring and support through the University’s Centre for Entrepreneurship.

The programme is celebrating its 10th year anniversary and is hosting the final showcase at the Piano tomorrow.

“It has really changed my perspective on what it takes to be a successful businessman and I’ve made a lot of progress,” Krzysztof says.

Looking into the future, the couple want to have a minimum viable product (MVP) developed within six months and plan to attend the European Conferences on Biomedical Optics in late June in Munich, Germany to promote it.

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