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Biotech, Accelerator to Partner on Glaucoma Treatment

Woman's eyes

(Public Domain Pictures, Pixabay)

30 October 2015. A new eye-drop treatment for the underlying causes of glaucoma is being developed in a collaboration between a biotechnology enterprise spun-off from Northwestern University and a company that acquires biomedical research assets. Financial aspects of the deal between Mannin Research Inc. in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and Q BioMed Inc. in New York were not disclosed.

Mannin Research is commercializing a technology developed in the lab of Susan Quaggin, a nephrologist and cardiovascular researcher at Northwestern University in Chicago. Quaggin, also Mannin’s chief scientist, studies signaling pathways affecting microvascular development, including genetic disruptions in vascular networks in the eyes associated with glaucoma. A September 2014 article in Journal of Clinical Investigation, with Quaggin as senior author, describes the technology and tests with lab mice induced with the genetic mutations resulting in glaucoma symptoms.

Glaucoma is the name given to a collection of eye conditions that result in damage to the optic nerve that in advanced stages can lead to vision loss. According to statistics cited by Glaucoma Research Foundation, glaucoma affects more than 3 million people in the U.S., accounting for 9 to 12 percent of all cases of blindness. Blindness from glaucoma is 6 to 8 times more common among people of African descent in the U.S. than Caucasians. It is also the second leading cause of blindness in the world, according to World Health Organization.

In most cases of glaucoma, abnormally high intraocular pressure results in the optic nerve damage. A blood vessel known as Schlemm’s canal drains fluid from the front of the eye, and when that vessel is blocked, due to mutation or over time, intraocular pressure can build up. Current treatments consist of eye drops or surgery to relieve pressure on the eyes.

Mannin Research plans to develop eye drops that repair and restore the normal flow of fluid in Schlemm’s canal, thus addressing the root cause of glaucoma rather than temporarily relieving intraocular pressure. The company says its technology is the only approach targeting this mechanism.

Q BioMed calls itself a biomedical acceleration and development company that acquires the rights to technologies from science-based enterprises and provides expansion capital to help those enterprises take their discoveries to market. Under the agreement, Q BioMed is licensing Mannin’s technology platform, with an option to acquire Mannin’s technology later on.

Q BioMed is publicly traded and offers stock-market investors opportunities to invest in biomedical enterprises, which are mainly privately owned, without becoming angel or venture investors. The company started in August 2015, and the deal with Mannin Research appears to be its first transaction.

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