Kukuii - Light therapy against Alzheimer's Disease

The word kukkuii means light in Hawaiian. Creating a new type of light is exactly what the four students Stefano Guzetti, Marcus Schultz Carstensen, Nicolai Hagelund and Gustavo Feijõo Carrillo have been working on for many months.

“Our project started as a collaborative effort between U.C Berkeley and DTU last year, with our involvement beginning at the course “Commercialization of high tech concepts…” dealing with entrepreneurship. A course open students at all institutes. At the course there were several cases that we as students could choose between. So the four of us got together even though we come from different institutes at DTU,” Nicolai explains.

“The course is a melting pot with new ideas presented as cases for students to work with, and anybody at DTU can join the course. After the course finished it spiraled further and we decided to apply for different grants, which also was very hard work,” Marcus says.

The hard work has indeed paid off. They have received 500.000 Dkk from DTU’s Proof of Concept fund, a MicroGrant 25.000 Dkk from the Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship and 150.000 Dkk from the Zangger Fund. They have managed to get other stakeholders involved in their project from UC Berkeley and Copenhagen University.

Flickering light turned into ordinary light

The kukuii project aims at developing a neuro treatment for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), which is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that accounts for approximately the 60% of the cases of dementia. There are 47 million people suffering from AD worldwide. The number is expected to double every 20 years.

“Our prototypes have huge potential as a neuro treatment medtech device in dealing with Alzheimer’s. The field is basically a graveyard because no medical research have proved to be efficient in treating Alzheimer’s in phase 2 and 3,” Stefano says.

“Inspiration for the project was found in a scientific paper written by MIT neuroscientist Li-Huei Tsai. It opens up for treating AD with flickering light. So, we have built several prototypes where we have developed a flickering light which looks like ordinary light. It has been a long process,” Gustavo says.

The group of the four students are still the central core for the collaborations with UC Berkeley and Copenhagen University.

Green Challenge is looking forward to learn more about the Kukuii project. Come and meet Stefano, Marcus, Nicolai and Gustavo on Friday 22 June.