Tech Transfer eNews Blog

U Birmingham spinout looks to enhance healing in ocular disease and eye trauma


By David Schwartz
Published: May 11th, 2022

The University of Birmingham (UK) has launched spinout, Healome Therapeutics Ltd. to commercialize a platform that delivers a ‘pro-healing’ microenvironment for the leading causes of preventable blindness.

The company’s leading application will be in ocular surface diseases, which are notoriously challenging conditions to treat and can have a major impact on quality of life.

The Healome technology is a novel fluid-gel material that flows like a liquid and self-structures into a thin, clear, protective layer over the surface of the eye. It is then gradually dispersed and cleared away by blinking over 2-8 hours, depending on the application. The gel can be used alone, or as a ‘carrier molecule’ to deliver other therapeutics.

The technology was developed by a team led by Professor Liam Grover, director of the university’s Healthcare Technologies Institute (HTI) and Healome co-founder. The start-up evisions developing treatment in the form of clear degradable ‘ocular bandages’ that can be applied like normal eye drops.

Grover says the technology helps solve a major problem in eye treatments. “One of the biggest challenges is to keep therapeutics on the surface of the eye for sufficient time for them to have an effect and more generally to regain or replace all the functions of the tear film,” he said.

Although Healome will initially concentrate on Dry Eye Disease, the start-up plans to partner with healthcare companies to co-develop new therapeutics for delivery to the surface of the eye.

The gels respond to shear stress, which allows it to change back and forth from a liquid to a soft-solid consistency according to the physical forces applied to it, such as extrusion from a container, or blinking. Its mechanical and drug diffusion properties can be ‘tuned’ by physical rather than chemical changes to the base polymers. These attributes mean that preclinical or early clinical safety studies for new formulations will not need to be repeated and will reduce the time and cost to bring new products to market.

According to Healome CEO Dr. Richard Williams, “Ocular surface diseases leading to Dry Eye have a disproportionately large impact on health, well-being and the ability to enjoy life. These conditions can also be very expensive for patients to manage. There are many unmet patient, clinical and industrial needs in this area, which Healome Therapeutics is well-placed to address. Preclinical safety of the platform is well-established, GMP manufacturing has been set up to supply planned phase 1 trials, and we have brought in significant executive experience in eye care to accelerate plans.”

Source: India Education

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