Project DEMONSTRATE extended

The Ministry of Science of Montenegro accepted the 12-month progress and financial report for the project DEMONSTRATE. The overall score of the report is 96.5 out of 100 points. The second year of the project and continuation of the financial support has been approved.

Taking into account the new circumstances that arose as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministry approved the extension of the project for six months so the planned activities could be adequately implemented. The new contractual deadline for the realization of the project is September 30, 2021.

Lacunarity Analysis of Microvascular Morphology in Human Retina (conference paper)

Project DEMONSTRATE was featured in the paper “Lacunarity Analysis of Microvascular Morphology in Human Retina” by I. Konatar, N. Popovic, T. Popovic, M. Radunovic, and B. Vukcevic was presented at the 2020 IcETRAN conference today. More about the conference at the following link.

ABSTRACT – Fractal analysis provides means for the quantitative assessment of geometric patterns in one, two, and three dimensions. It is aimed at analysis of graphical shapes that belong to a class of fractal objects that are characterized by the self-similarity over different scales. Various structures in nature are fractals and fractal analysis techniques are widely used for analysis of biomedical images. One such example of application is analyzing blood vessel structure in the human retina that can be extracted from digital images captured by fundus camera. The most commonly used fractal analysis is estimation of fractal dimension using various box-counting methods for mono-and multi-fractals. Although two fractal images can have the same fractal dimension they can have very different appearance and structure. One can appear as a structure that fills most of the available space, while the other can have a lot of empty areas. These differences can be quantified by lacunarity parameter, which has greater value in images with less space-filling properties. This paper focuses on the estimation of the lacunarity parameter implemented in the Python programming language, which is aimed at lacunarity analysis of microvaculae morphology in human retina. The implementation is validated by comparison with the results obtained by ImageJ, a commonly used software for analysis of biomedical images. The value of the lacunarity analysis is demonstrated on a set of actual images of human retina associated with different medical conditions.

The paper presented at IcETRAN 2020 conference

Newest Trends in Development of Tools for Identification of Patients at Risk for Alzheimer Disease

The paper “Retinal Microperimetry: A New Tool for Identifying Patients With Type 2 Diabetes at Risk for Developing Alzheimer Disease published by Ciudin et al in Diabetes in 2017 represents an important step forward in the development of non-invasive detection of patients at risk for the development of Alzheimer disease.

This is especially important in patients with type 2 diabetes, who have two-fold higher risk for developing dementia than age-matched people without diabetes, even after taking into account vascular risk factors. The paper demonstrated that retinal sensitivity assessed by microperimetry directly correlates with signs of brain neurodegeneration detected by MRI and FDG-PET. More importantly, retinal sensitivity significantly correlates with cognitive status of the patients.

These data suggest that retinal microperimetry could be applied as a new tool in identification of patients at risk for Alzheimer disease.

Read more at:

Pilot Study – Use of Portable Non-mydriatic Fundus Camera

Pilot study ‘Topological Characterization of the Retinal Microvascular Network Visualized by a Portable Non-mydriatic Fundus Camera HORUS 200 in healthy young subjects” is under way at the Faculty of Medicine in Podgorica.

Image: Manual Segmentation of Retinal Microvascular Network

The microvascular system of the retina is an integral part of the microcirculation of the human body that can be directly studied in vivo in a simple and non-invasive way. The condition of these blood vessels can be recorded through digital photography. This approach gives us information not only about the health of the eye, but also the microcirculation throughout the entire body and it is used in the diagnosis of systemic diseases such as diabetes mellitus and hypertension.

Portable digital cameras are improving in quality and they are becoming more affordable. They are easy and quick to use, and do not require prior dilatation of the pupil, so they can be used in the primary health care setting. Also, this type of camera is light and can be used in the field for patients for whom health care is difficult to access. The digital photographs can then be easily transmitted for expert analysis by an ophthalmologist.

In order for this retinal imaging technology to be applied successfully in everyday practice, it is necessary that there is first a detailed description of the normal retinal anatomy visualized through this method.

The eye as a window to the brain – RECOGNISED project

“The eye as a window to the brain” – new European initiative, RECOGNISED, will determine the usefulness of the retina as a tool for identifying people with type 2 diabetes and cognitive impairment

An important EU-funded project has been launched to explore the biological pathways that may link the alterations observed in the retina with those present in the brain in people with type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Type 2 diabetes is known to be an independent risk factor for developing cognitive impairment and dementia, with studies showing that people living with T2D have a two-fold higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) when compared to the general population. AD is a neurodegenerative disease that leads to the progressive loss of brain cells, which causes cognitive decline and, eventually, dementia. People with cognitive impairment are more prone to have impaired diabetes self-management, poor glycaemic control and an increased incidence of diabetes-related complications, which presents significant challenges both for individuals and healthcare systems on how best to manage diabetes care. 

The four-year long RECOGNISED project will study the biological mechanisms that cause structural and functional alterations in the retina in people with type 2 diabetes, to determine whether these same pathways play a role in the events observed in the brain during the development of cognitive impairment and dementia. Importantly, RECOGNISED will reveal whether evaluating the retina, easily accessible with current non-invasive technologies, could help in identifying earlier cognitive impairment in people with T2D, so that appropriate support can be given. RECOGNISED will also analyse previously-collected data and samples from registries, cohorts and biobanks. By gaining knowledge on the mechanisms of disease, RECOGNISED will help to identify new potential therapeutic interventions.  

RECOGNISED brings together 21 partners from nine different countries, including academic institutions, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the European infrastructure for translational medicine (EATRIS) and patient organisations, with complementary knowledge and expertise. RECOGNISED will receive almost €6 million in funding from the EU Horizon 2020 towards this programme with the final goal of improving the quality of life of people living with diabetes. In RECOGNISED, basic scientists and clinicians with extensive expertise in diabetes, ophthalmology and neurology will use state-or-the-art technologies to undertake the experimental and clinical studies that form part of this ambitious project.

Project Coordinator: Professor Rafael Simó, Vall d’Hebron Research Institute, Barcelona (Spain)

Project Partners: Queen’s University Belfast (UK), AIBILI (Portugal), Utrecht University Medical Center (Netherlands), Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam (Netherlands), Tor Vergata University of Rome (Italy), San Raffaele University Hospital (Italy), University of Milan (Italy), University of Southern Denmark (Denmark), University Hospital Trust, Charity of Novara (Italy), Fundacio Assistencial de Mutua de Terrassa (Spain), Catalan Health Institute (Spain), University of Montenegro (Montenegro), Clinical Center of Montenegro (Montenegro), University of Cadiz (Spain), EATRIS (Netherlands), Alzheimer Europe (Luxembourg), IDF-Europe (Belgium), Anaxomics Biotech (Spain), Oxurion (Belgium), Genesis Biomed (Spain), Vall d’Hebron Research Institute, Barcelona (Spain).

This project receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 847749. This material reflects only the authors’ views, and the Commission is not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.

Conference Paper Presentation: IT2020

Project DEMONSTRATE was featured in the scientific paper “Box-counting method for fractal analysis of biomedical images” that was presented at the IEEE 24th International conference on Information Technology, IT2020 on 20. February, 2020. The paper discussed an implementation of a software library for fractal analysis aimed at quantification of complexity of microvascular network in human retina. The software calculates box-counting fractal dimension that can be used as a potential biomarker of various diseases. This research effort demonstrated that the use of this software module offers a very good flexibility in performing in silico experiments with digital images of retina and possibly other biomedical images. More info at: link.

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At the IT2020 paper presentation session