New drug-eluting soft contact lens technology has shown to deliver a number of different drugs directly to the eye and may soon improve postoperative recovery for millions of people who undergo cataract and LASIK surgery or suffer corneal abrasions every year, according to an OcuMedic news release.
The extended-wear contact, developed by Biomedical researchers at Rowan University and Auburn University, controls the release of anti-inflammatory, anti-biotic, and pain-reducing drugs that are delivered evenly over time. The new technology can potentially reduce recovery time and post-operative complications thereby reducing health care cost.
“Patients who undergo eye surgery for cataracts, LASIK, or who suffer corneal abrasions can experience longer healing times, complications, and even infections if proper care, including administering eye drops, is not properly followed,” Mark E. Byrne, PhD, Founding Head and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Rowan University, inventor of the technology, and previously a distinguished professor at Auburn University and Chief Technical Officer of OcuMedic, said in the news release. “Our research shows the new contact lens technology is expected to lead to higher efficacy for patients compared to topical eye drops by improving compliance and mitigating concentration peaks and valleys associated with multiple drops.”
“In addition to serving patients who have undergone surgery, as a platform technology, the therapeutic lens has been applied to other diseases of the eye including Dry Eye and Glaucoma,” said Keith D. Ignotz, President and Chief Executive Officer of OcuMedic, which is commercializing the technology. “The current therapeutic eye drops market is $16 billion annually. A successful drug-eluting, soft contact lens – that could potentially capture a large part of that market – is expected to garner significant interest from large pharma companies.”
OcuMedic is expected to begin clinical studies necessary for FDA approval this year, first as an in-vivo study for the FDA to navigate into the phase 1-2 human trials in 2019.
The technology is covered by nine U.S. patents and is expected to be the first product of its kind on the market, once approved.
Dr. Byrne and OcuMedic have received approximately $1.85 million in funding to date, including research funding from the National Institutes of Health and has recently received an undisclosed amount from a national Angel investor group and is staging for a Series A funding in the $4 million range.