Losing your eyesight is one of the most devastating things that can happen to a person.
Some forms of vision loss that affect the retina, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), or diabetes can be treated. This requires monthly injections into the eye for at least five years. The treatment works well for most people but requires regular outpatient visits and there is a small risk of additional complications from the injection process itself.
There is a real need to make treatments better, safer and more convenient.
I-Daruma has developed a technology that takes the same treatment and makes it possible to deliver the currently injected drugs as eye drops instead. It works by creating short-lived nanoparticles that are mixed with the drugs. These then dissociate at the target tissues, releasing the drug. The nanoparticles are made from compounds that naturally occur in the body and are well-tolerated, giving the technology the advantages of nanoparticle delivery without the toxicity associated with current nanoparticles.
The eye drops will address several issues with the current treatment regime. While injections must be administered by trained healthcare professionals in a clinical setting, eye drops can be administered by the patient themselves anywhere, resulting in large healthcare cost savings.
Worldwide, there were 14 million intravitreal injections performed in 2018 and it’s a number that has been growing 20% year-on-year. The drivers of treatment are the ageing global population and metabolic disease such as diabetes. About one third of people living with diabetes will suffer from diabetic retinopathy. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is also a leading cause of vision loss in Europe and the US. Currently, 196 million people are estimated to be affected by AMD globally, a figure expected to hit 288 million by 2040.
In the next 12 to 18 months, Naa Dei anticipates applying for InnovateUK Grant funding and looks forward to completing pre-clinical trials and having a dossier for approval for clinical trials.
2020 – Awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering’s Enterprise Fellowship.
2020 – Piloting trials of technology with a pharmaceutical company.
“[The Enterprise Fellowship] has opened my eyes to what goes into turning a neat idea into a business and has equipped me with tools to do so. It’s an amazing network of people at different stages of their enterprises, and I’ve found it very supportive.”