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Ophthalmology Drug Delivery Start-Up Gets $4M Investment

Eyes closeup (Paleontour/Flickr)An Atlanta-based start-up, Clearside Biomedical, has received a $4 million venture capital investment from Hatteras Venture Partners in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Clearside Medical is commercializing technology developed at Emory University and Georgia Tech that delivers drugs to precise locations in the eye using hollow microneedles.

Research behind the Clearside Biomedical technology was conducted in the labs of bioengineering professor Mark Prausnitz at Georgia Tech and opthamology professor Henry Edelhauser at Emory University medical school. Their discovery has led to development of hollow micron-scale (1 micron equals 1 millionth of a meter) needles to inject therapeutics into the space between the outer surface of the eye, called the sclera, and a deeper layer that provides nutrients to the rest of the eye, called the choroid.

The developers believe delivering drugs to this suprachoroidal space, as it is called, with microscopic needles, can reduce trauma to the eye, make drugs more effective and reduce complications. The new delivery method could encourage development of new drugs for the retina, choroid, and other structures in the back of the eye.

Preclinical findings published in the journal Pharmaceutical Research in January 2011 show that this technique can be used to deliver nano- and microparticles to specific parts of the eye. Later research showed that microneedle injections into the suprachoroidal space resulted in concentrations of drugs and particles that could be maintained for several months.

Hatteras Venture Partners funds start-ups mainly in their early stages. The investment is expected to support human trials of safety and efficacy needed for regulatory approvals. Clearside was formed with help from Georgia Tech’s VentureLab program that secured seed funding from the Georgia Research Alliance.

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Photo: Paleontour/Flickr

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