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Company history

The route to the founding of the subsidiary company, Okuvision
Within the scope of the basic research into retina implantation, the effects of long term electrical stimulation on the retina were also examined. The work carried out jointly by NMI Reutlingen (Natural and medical Sciences Institute Reutlingen) and the Universitäts Augenklinik Tübingen (University eye clinic, Tübingen) was subsidised by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (German Federal Ministry of Education and Research) within the framework of the BIOPROFILE programme.

This revealed that electrical stimulation leads to changes in tissue, which are normally an indication of healing processes. Within the scope of these investigations Dr. Wrobel was the first to recognise that it might be possible to stop a degeneration of the retina by means of electrical stimulation. Such a degeneration, which is also the cause of the retinitis pigmentosa (RP) illness, leads to the gradual loss of eyesight. Dr. Wrobel formulated the hypothesis that people suffering from RP with a residual degree of eyesight can be helped by electrical stimulation.

His investigations into the status of research revealed that - due to the lack of reference groups or to incorrect measurements of eyesight - earlier approaches were not suitable for providing scientifically convincing proofs of effectiveness. On the other hand there were certainly indications from foreign working groups that similar phenomena had been observed in quite a different context. Of particular help to the research were the comprehensive experience reports from the Universitäts-Augenklinik Tübingen, which were gained during the preparation and implementation of the clinical pilot study on the retina implant. In it patients reported a subjective improvement in their sense of brightness even after the removal of the retina chip.

A well-prepared proposal for implementing a scientifically approved clinical study was approved by the Retina Implant investors, who also agreed to provide financial support. Because the preventative therapy approach to retina degeneration by electrical stimulation is complementary to the implant of a retina chip, the decision was taken to found the 100% subsidiary company, OKUVISION.

The Okuvision pilot study
Within the framework of the Okuvision study, a total of 60 patients from southern Germany with different illness symptoms were recruited. Of these, 24 patients alone were for the retinitis pigmentosa illness and were treated in three groups of eight persons each.

The analysis of the data carried out at the beginning of 2010 revealed that appropriate electrical stimulation shows an improvement in the field of vision of retinitis pigmentosa patients (Schatz, et al, IOVS june 2011).

The development of the OkuStim system

The results of the Okuvision study were the motivation for Okuvision GmbH to work at full speed to develop an appropriate stimulation system.

The partner for developing the electronics was Multichannelsystems GmbH, a global leader in the supply of microelectrode arrays used for investigations into biological samples.

The development of the OkuStim system was subsidised by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology within the framework of the Zentralen Innovationsoffensive Mittelstand (ZIM) (Central Innovation Programme for Medium Sized Companies).

The development of the Okuvision system