Australian ocular technology company Eye Co Pty Ltd has achieved a key commercial milestone, with a patent granted protecting its new class of eye disease drugs throughout the high value European market.
The important patent for treating ocular conditions secures the company's novel method of formulation and administration of a class of steroids known as mineralocortocoids, into the back of the eye.
Drug candidates arising from this proprietary platform -- including lead candidate VistaMR™ -- are capable of treating exudation, or fluid leakage and build-up in the back of the eye. This condition is caused by blood vessel damage and affects up to 90% of diabetics. It is one of the leading causes of untreatable blindness worldwide.
Eye Co chief scientist Professor Philip Penfold said this kind of fluid build-up frequently accompanies diabetic retinal conditions, ocular cancers and inflammation.
He said existing therapies were costly and often caused serious side effects including cataract formation and an increase in 'intra ocular pressure', among other risks.
He commented: "Treating these conditions with steroids is not new but there are two classes of nuclear receptors mediating the steroid response -- the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR).
"To date, most ocular steroid applications have largely triggered the GR pathway which is associated with a higher risk of side effects, including cataract formation.
"Our approach to target exudation through MR pathways largely avoids the potential for this kind of debilitating side effect. Basically we are using Australian research partners to target a different pathway, for an improved response."
Eye Co is developing a robust intellectual property portfolio protecting its novel steroid based technology, with similar patents granted in Australia and now throughout Europe.
The company was founded in 2006 and the Australian-developed technology emanates from Eye Co's collaboration with Monash University scientists as well as Singaporean and US researchers.
The Federal Government has contributed more than $2 million in highly competitive grants in recent years to progress Eye Co's novel technology. The Victorian Government has also supported this innovation through its Innovation Voucher Program, which the company won last year.
The global market for retinal diseases today exceeds $6 billion annually.