Acucela announced that the company signed the agreement with the Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) to develop a compact OCT device for NASA’s Deep Space missions.
Approximately 63% of long-duration spaceflight crewmembers present with one or more signs of Spaceflight Associated Neuro-ocular Syndrome (SANS), including optic disc edema, globe flattening, choroidal folds, cotton wool spots, and refractive shifts. OCT has become a mainstay of crew testing for SANS because it allows accurate measurement of retinal thickness and cross-sectional imagery of the retina and optic disc. This in combination with other tests provides the necessary data to diagnose, monitor, and eventually treat SANS.
The commercially available off-the-shelf (COTS) OCT devices currently deployed to the International Space Station (ISS) are not suitable for Lunar, Martian and other expeditionary space travel. These commercial systems are complex, too large, not radiation hardened, and contain features that are not necessary for diagnosing and monitoring the anatomic effects of SANS, according to a company news release.
By using a unique approach, we are able to create a solid-state OCT yielding high resolution imagery. The final flight-ready device will allow NASA to replace current COTS OCT devices with smaller, lighter, easier to use, durable and radiation hardened instruments that are practical for use in smaller spacecrafts, while providing required image quality from astronauts during flight.
“I am very excited to be able to take part in NASA’s efforts as a principal investigator with expeditionary space travel,” Ryo Kubota, a visiting professor at Keio University School of Medicine, MD, PhD, and Chairman, President and CEO of Acucela, said in the news release. “Using our technology, we will endeavor to build a durable, hand-held OCT device for use during space flight, to help safeguard crewmembers’ health.”