2022-04-26| Startups

Birmingham University Spinout Looking to Tackle Ocular Surface Disorders

by Fujie Tham
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The University of Birmingham formed a new spinout, Healome Therapeutics Ltd to commercialize a healing platform for preventable blindness. With backing of the UK Medical Research Council, Healome is ready to progress from lab bench to completing Phase I human trials and establishing its base in Birmingham Research Park.

Healome’s prime application will be tackling ocular surface disorders, which are challenging to treat and have progressively larger impacts on patients’ quality of life. The company has raised £2.8m grant funding from the Medical Research Council (MRC) and £1.3m from the National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR) Invention for Innovation program. Its founding directors already have experience in commercializing and advancing therapies toward Phase I-III clinical trials.

Related Article: Novartis Books Gyroscope for $1.5 Billion in Pursuit of Gene Therapy for Blindness


Gel-Like Ocular Bandages Can Be Applied Like Daily Eye Drops


The core technology is a gel-like material that flows like a liquid, and self-structures into a clear protective layer over the eye surface which is gradually dispersed and cleared away by blinking over preset hours. The gel can be used alone or as a carrier to deliver other therapeutics. Studies demonstrated that one of Healome’s formulations has anti-scarring activity, and healing properties are augmented by combining it with other therapeutics. Treatments using this gel platform will likely come in a clear degradable “ocular bandages” form that can be applied just like our daily eye drops.

“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 patients, clinical and industrial needs in this area, which Healome Therapeutics is well-placed to address,” said Dr. Richard Williams, Healome CEO.

Inaugurated by the University of Birmingham and Birmingham City Council in 1986, the Birmingham Science Park accommodates companies and projects seeking to work with the University in research, development, and training. This March, the park announced that specialist infectious disease diagnostics company, Genetic Signatures joined BioHub Birmingham as the launchpad for a planned further expansion into Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

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