Mechanical Engineering assistant professor Brittany Coats received a Jade Therapeutics/DOD $58,380 one year grant for her Novel Hyaluronic Acid Delivery Polymer for Repair of Ocular Injuries research.

The Phase II SBIR objective is to complete required preclinical work on a novel cross-linked hyaluronic acid film as a treatment for traumatic battlefield-related ocular surface injuries. With intrinsic anti-adhesive/anti-inflammatory properties, Jade Therapeutics’ proprietary, bio-erodible polymer has been shown to enhance ocular surface healing when formulated as a liquid. When made into a membrane/film capable of providing physio-mechanical properties, the product additionally acts as a protective bandage and barrier to adhesions. Phase I funding allowed for successful determination of initial formulation with cytocompatability confirmation. Phase II will allow for completion of bench studies, film formulation design, sterilization/stability studies, and preclinical testing to develop a versatile and commercial capable ocular bandage. The product will be applied directly onto the damaged cornea at the time of injury, without suturing or adhesives, which will accelerate healing and restoration of the ocular surface, as well as improve “return to duty” rates and visual outcomes not only for soldiers but also for the civilian population that suffers from serious ocular surface disease. Phase II funding will support the development of the prototype(s) such that a pre-clinical testing path can be followed toward satisfying the Army’s operational requirements of improved vision restoration and preservation.

Anticipated Benefits/Potential Commercial Applications of the Research or Development. 

Jade Therapeutics’ unique, topical, biodegradable, polymer film can be applied at the time of ocular surface injury to treat acute (and chronic) ocular surface disease, greatly reducing permanent eye injury and blindness. This novel product will benefit both the soldier and the civilian population, not only by addressing traumatic injuries but also by serving as a multi-purpose bio-erodible bandage system for ocular infections, inflammation, corneal damage due to serious dry eye, and post-surgery recovery requiring a protective bandage. Jade estimates the military market for this product to be at least $63 million annually and the total annual civilian U.S. market to exceed $1 billion. The Jade management team, PI, and consultants on this project have relevant ophthalmology product development expertise and fully understand the ophthalmic market. Jade has conducted formal market research with physicians to confirm the unmet need in ocular disease. Jade has also met with payers to validate the product’s value proposition and to conduct economic modeling. As a result Jade has received enthusiastic support from key opinion leaders in corneal healing; and is in discussions with both large and small pharmaceutical companies regarding potential collaborations and out-licensing arrangements if anticipated Phase II clinical trial results prove effective.

Dr. Coats is the director of the Developmental Head Injury Biomechanics Lab. Learn more about her and her students’ research there.