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Device for measuring melanopsin sensitivity



 Melanopsin is a photo-pigment protein found in specialized photosensitive ganglion cells (ipRGCs) of the retina. These cells are involved in the regulation of circadian rhythms, sleep, mood, the pupillary light reflex, and the painful sensation of bright light.


Accurate measurements of melanospin sensitivity can be used to determine the functional state of retinal ganglion cells prior to treatments for degenerative retinal disease, and may inform clinical diagnosis of diseases such as sleep disorders, migraine, seasonal affective disorder and progressive tau-opathies and acute injuries such as post-concussive photophobia. However, such measurements are complicated by individual differences in the functional and optical and properties of the eye.



  • A novel device and proprietary operating software for stimulating and measuring the sensitivity of the melanopsin system.
  • This device isolates the effects of melanopsin stimulation from effects of signals originating in the rod and cone photoreceptors.
  • Tailored light spectra are generated for stimulation and responses may be measured using infrared pupillometry or electroretinography.
  • The device provides a scaled melanopsin sensitivity score based upon comparison of multiple measurements from different photoreceptor pathways.




  • The device can be integrated as an add-on to a standard ophthalmologic examination room.
  • The system provides rapid, non-invasive, and objective measurements of melanopsin sensitivity.
  • The measurement is robust to individual differences in age, eye pigmentation, photopigment polymorphisms, and pupil responsiveness.
  • The platform is currently being used to establish population norms.



  •  Treatment of obesity or cachexia
  • Overcome nausea associated with chemotherapy and morning sickness


Stage of Development:

Preclinical discovery


Intellectual Property:

Provisional patent application filed 2019


Desired Partnerships:

  • Collaborators
  • Co-development partners

 Docket # 14-6833



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Patent Information:
Medical Devices
For Information, Contact:
Neal Lemon
Associate Director, PSOM Licensing Group
University of Pennsylvania
Geoffrey Aguirre
David Brainard