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It Starts With One Drop

Theresa Brady
Theresa Brady
May 24, 2019

Despite fifty years of research attempting to develop a solution for a popular health issue, it may take just one new approach to help millions of patients undergoing eye surgery every year. OcuMedic, Inc., the 2018 winner of BIO Convention’s Start-Up Stadium, may have its “starts with one” moment with a treatment that has potential to revolutionize delivery of medication to eye surgery patients.

It is companies like OcuMedic that inspired the theme for BIO 2019: “It Starts with One”. The company is developing a brand-new way to help the growing number of patients having eye surgeries for cataracts, post-corneal abrasion and Lasik procedures. Post-operative care for these operations includes eye drops which come with a host of challenges. These drops are hard to dispense (particularly in the elderly), have a low patient adherence rate, and deliver only about 5% of the medication – all of which can aggravate and contribute to post-operative complications. The potential solution?  A patented, drug-eluting therapeutic contact lens that provides timed drug delivery to the eye. Invented by the company’s co-founder Mark Byrne, Ph.D., the lens is designed to deliver medication continuously to the eye and more precisely control the release of drugs for inflammation and pain that target post-operative eye care to reduce healing time and complications. The device is a platform technology, with OcuMedic demonstrating controlled release of a number of therapeutics for the duration of wear, targeted at the large and growing surgery, dry eye and glaucoma markets.

How did this early-stage biotech company evolve a novel biotechnology to impress the Start-Up Stadium judges to snag the 2018 title?  According to Keith Ignotz, president and CEO of OcuMedic, Inc. “It took an unmet medical need, the proper technology designed to address it, and a successful management team with a track record of knowing how to collaborate with others.”

BIO’s “Start-Up Stadium” connects early stage companies with investors and state and regional affiliates to progress innovation. At the BIO Convention, finalists present a five to seven-minute pitch, followed up with feedback from the judges. For OcuMedic this meant being relentless about addressing potential market challenges raised by the judges at BIO 2018. This included providing a clear vision and strategy for future clinical trials, regulatory path, reimbursement, and manufacturing approach. To do so, OcuMedic created a stellar team of professionals from a variety of fields to serve on its management and advisory boards. While it can take just one idea to get a company off the ground, it can require a host of collaborations to help an innovation take further flight towards potential availability.

Since 2018 Convention, OcuMedic, Inc. continues to progress and is staged to go into a Phase 1-2 clinical trial. Next steps include reaching an agreement with the FDA on the clinical trial sample size and endpoint.

At this year’s 2019 BIO International Convention in Philadelphia from June 3 -6, Start-Up Stadium will once again bring companies from around the country to engage key members of the investment community, venture philanthropy groups, and BIO attendees. The 2019 finalists have been announced and the excitement is building. Which company has the potential to continue down the path with the next promising biotech breakthrough?