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IIT-Nethralaya team makes device for early diabetic retinopathy detection

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, June 25 - A team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati, in collaboration with the Sri Sankaradeva Nethralaya Guwahati, has developed a point-of-care testing device that can detect diabetic retinopathy at an early stage without need for invasive testing.

The research team is led by Dr Dipankar Bandyopadhyay, Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Head of the Centre for Nanotechnology of IIT Guwahati.

Descriptions and results of the testing device were recently published in the noted journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.

The paper has been authored by Prof Bandyopadhyay and his students Surjendu Maity, Subhradip Ghosh and Tamanna Bhuyan of IIT-G. The other author and collaborator, Dr Dipankar Das, is head of the Dept of Ocular Pathology and Uvea at Sri Sankaradeva Nethralaya. The team has also filed an Indian patent for this idea and device. The research is funded by the Ministry of Human Resource and Development, Indian Council of Medical Research and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

Diabetic retinopathy is a serious non-communicable disease in India, with a conservative estimate that 11-20 million Indians will suffer from this malady by 2025. It is caused by abnormal growth in the retinal blood vessels in people with diabetes and it usually worsens when the patient is on insulin for diabetic treatment.

�Currently, the first step in the test for diabetic retinopathy is an invasive eye exam, in which the eyes are dilated and the ophthalmologist inspects them. As people who have had eye examination know, this is inconvenient, with blurry vision for a long time after examination. Advanced detection methods such as optical coherence tomography, fluorescein angiography, detection of exudates in retina, and image analysis are complicated and require skilled operators and can show the malady only after it has progressed enough to be detected,� said Dr Bandyopadhyay.

The research team worked on finding out if there could be a simple test, such as a blood or urine test, that can detect retinopathy even before symptoms are seen in the eye. The team found that B2M, a protein found in tears and urine, is a reliable indicator for retinopathy. Armed with this knowledge, they set out to develop a device that can detect this protein in these body fluids.

The device has a small plate containing micro channels for guidance of fluids, in this case, a micro drop of urine or tear. The research team�s work is among the first in this area and has practical implications, especially in India, known as the diabetes capital of the world, said the lead researcher.

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