Jade Therapeutics announced that the company has been awarded a $725,000 phase 2 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation titled "Biodegradable Polymer Film for Sustained Delivery of Antibiotics to the Surface of the Eye," according to a company news release. This 2-year grant (IIP-1430921) follows successful completion during 2013-14 of a $150,000 phase 1.
The therapeutic indication being addressed in this work is bacterial keratitis (BK)/corneal ulcers. Characterized by intense ocular pain, reduced vision, and extreme light sensitivity, this disorder often results in a scarred/cloudy cornea (the clear dome covering the eye's iris and pupil), according ot the news release. BK can be explosive in its development, generating rapid corneal inflammation that can lead to tissue destruction, loss of normal tissue integrity, perforation, and extension of infection into neighboring tissues and loss of vision. Bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa often lead to BK, and these infections require urgent medical attention given the associated risk of corneal perforation.
"Bacterial keratitis is a serious, vision-threatening ocular emergency," Jade consultant Bennie Jeng, MD, Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said in the news release. "Our current antibiotic therapies for this disorder are employed off-label and require highly inconvenient eye drops administered as often as hourly for the first few days."
"The NSF has been incredibly supportive of Jade's thiolated hyaluronic acid-based films as a delivery polymer and treatment for unmet medical needs at the ocular surface. Not only do these new funds help us to progress an improved treatment for bacterial keratitis, but they also allow us to continue to expand our overall ocular drug delivery platform," Jade Chief Scientific Officer Barbara Wirostko, MD, the principle investigator on the grant, said in the news release.