EyeD Pharma is developing micro-implants for drug release over a prolonged period of time.
Most chronic diseases require daily medication for years on end. For these patients, adhering to the prescribed therapy regimen remains a major challenge. EyeD Pharma is developing micro-implants for controlled release of one or more drugs over a prolonged period of time. Their implants enable correct and consistent administration of medication, as well as local application of the drug(s). The latter increases bioavailability (allowing a significant dose reduction), reduces or even eliminates side-effects, and allows to target hard-to-reach cells or organs.
In first instance, EyeD Pharma’s technology platform is addressing ophthalmologic diseases such as glaucoma. Glaucoma is caused by poor drainage of the fluid that continuously flows through the eye, which results in increased intra-ocular pressure and eventually optic nerve damage and vision loss. The standard treatment involves a life-long daily administration of eye drops that decrease the intra-ocular pressure. Unfortunately, these eye drops are associated with various side effects and treatment incompliance, which allows further disease progression. EyeD Pharma’s products will help patients better manage their disease and prevent vision loss. In addition, the company is the exclusive distributor of Bausch & Lomb’s surgical products in Belgium and Luxembourg.
The company’s headquarters are located on the campus of the GIGA institute of the University of Liège. Mélanie Mestdagt, EyeD’s CEO and co-founder, has been with company since day one. She was one of the first two people there, and helped it grow into a thriving company that currently employs about 70 people. Proud of the group’s exponential growth, she carefully guards its unity. Mélanie elaborates “Working as a team is very important to me. There are many people now at EyeD, yet we have to work as one team. It is important to have everyone aligned on this, as it is one of our core values.”
EyeD Pharma’s micro-implants are less than half a millimeter wide and can be produced in varying shapes. They are based on a polymeric matrix core containing one or more clinically validated drugs that reduce intra-ocular pressure. More recently, the company also started developing biodegradable implants that can be inserted in patients undergoing eye surgery to prevent post-operative inflammation. The production of the implants takes place at UniD Manufacturing, a sister company of EyeD Pharma that was launched to valorize the highly specialized production process that was developed in-house.
The technology platform can also be applied for other pathologies that benefit from localized treatment. Mélanie explains: “Preferably, chemotherapy would be administered directly at the cancer-affected site. The same goes for the ear; given that it comprises such a small part of the body, it would be beneficial to treat it locally, instead of systemically administering a drug. Plus, our products will be able to ensure therapy adherence in patients with neurologic or mental disorders.”
It is counterproductive to be surrounded by people agreeing with everything we say. Qbic is definitely challenging us, very respectfully of course, which we really appreciate.
To further advance their products in the pipeline and develop applications to address additional pathologies, the team joined forces with investors. Reflecting on the partnership with Qbic, Melanie comments “Qbic provides access to a valuable network, they connect us with people or companies specializing in polymers, pharmacy, manufacturing, and so on. It is very much an active contribution, and that is very important at this stage of the company. Plus, it is counterproductive to be surrounded by people agreeing with everything we say. Qbic is definitely challenging us, very respectfully of course, which we really appreciate.
My team and I are motivated to improve the quality of life of particularly the elderly.
Currently, the company is working towards its first tests in humans. Mélanie elaborates “This will allow us to demonstrate that we are able to develop and manufacture a safe product, and later on that we have a product that works. In addition, we want to show that we are a platform company, capable of developing multiple products.” Mélanie’s unwavering determination to reach these goals is driven by the prospect of improving patients’ lives. “My team and I are motivated to improve the quality of life of particularly the elderly. We have a lot of work ahead of us, which we will tackle as a group.”
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