David Walsh knew there had to be a better way.

After watching his grand­mother, who suf­fers from age-​​related mac­ular degen­er­a­tion, undergo painful treat­ments that nei­ther she nor her doctor knew to be effec­tive, Walsh, a grad­uate stu­dent at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, took mat­ters into his own hands and devel­oped a device that could change the way patients like his grand­mother go through diagnosis.

It’s a med­ical device that mea­sures dis­ease bio­markers [called VEGF] within the fluid in your eye,” Walsh explains. “From less than a droplet of fluid from the eye, we can do an analysis to deter­mine if treat­ments are effec­tive in pre­venting blood vessel growth within your eye [the main char­ac­ter­istic of eye dis­or­ders like age-​​related mac­ular degen­er­a­tion and dia­betic retinopathy].”

The cur­rent treat­ment process for people with age-​​related mac­ular degen­er­a­tion and dia­betic retinopathy—which, together, are the leading cause of blind­ness in the Western world—involves injecting a drug directly into the eye every four to six weeks. The process is painful and expen­sive, but per­haps worst of all is the uncer­tainty asso­ci­ated with it. “[The doc­tors] don’t really know what kind of dosing people need, and there’s no real way to tell if the drug is working other than looking at it after quite a few months,” Walsh says. “There’s also a lot of patients that don’t really respond to the drug as well.”

That’s why Walsh cre­ated his device, which was devel­oped with the help of a grant awarded to Shashi Murthy, Walsh’s advisor at Northeastern.

Read the article at Boston Magazine →