New biomed optics company formed

CANTERBURY, ENGLAND-A new company has been set up to exploit optical coherence tomography (OCT) in the biomedical optics arena.

CANTERBURY, ENGLAND-A new company has been set up to exploit optical coherence tomography (OCT) in the biomedical optics arena. Optopod will leverage the skills and international reputation of Adrian Podoleanu, who as professor of biomedical optics heads up the Applied Optics Group in the Department of Physical Sciences at the University of Kent.

The Department of Physical Sciences launched its new spin-out venture in collaboration with Kent Enterprise, based at the university, and Cambridge Science and Technology Consultants and Associates (CTSC; Cambridge, England). Several patents have been applied for, and the university has transferred these into the new company for an equity position.

Podoleanu is a specialist in OCT, a type of low coherence interferometry. It is a powerful tool which can be used to “section” a transparent object, including tissue. OCT has proved successful in imaging superficial tissue and is attractive as a non-destructive depth profiler. The Kent group’s research on flying spot “en-face” OCT has produced OCT images with the same orientation as that in scanning laser ophthalmoscopy (SLO), allowing dual imaging. Several ophthalmology groups now use the OCT/SLO dual imaging system. Podoleanu claims that the technique is currently evolving quickly with applications in medicine in general and ophthalmology.

“The OCT technology has the great advantage that it is non-invasive and provides high depth resolution, therefore the technology can be applied safely to different types of tissue such as skin, teeth, gum, internal vessel walls and hair and may be important for patients with conditions such as burns,” he said. “Visualisation of cells, micro-organisms, hair, brain and the interior of arteries has been reported with depth and transversal resolution of 5-15 µm.”

OCT has also been used to image integrated circuits, characterize fiber Bragg gratings, and optical waveguides and in surface analysis. In addition, the technology is finding applications in biology and art conservation.

“Prof. Podoleanu has an international reputation in the area of Biomedical Optics and also has well established commercial relationships, which increases the likelihood of success for this exciting venture,” said CSTC’s founder, Karl Heeks, who brokered the spin-out.

“This is the second company that has been spun-out from the University of Kent within the last 6 months,” said Carole Barron, Director of Kent Enterprise. “This consolidates our mission to commercially exploit the university’s intellectual property that has arisen out of our world-class research.”

-Bridget K. Marx

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