CMI Team Success Story:
By William Hsin, CMI Fellow
According to the US Eye Injury
Registry (University of Alabama at Birmingham), over 2.4 million eye injuries
occur each year in the US, an estimated one million of which result in
permanent, significant visual impairment. Eye injuries are the second most common
cause of visual impairment behind cataracts. The majority of these cases occur
in individuals under 30 years old, thus greatly increasing the economic and
emotional impact of such trauma.
OcuDerm is a new team that is
working on a therapeutic gel for EMTs and paramedics to apply to victims of
severe eye trauma. The technology behind OcuDerm was pioneered by Dr. Morgan
Fedorchak, PhD, Assistant Professor of Bioengineering and researcher in the
UPMC Department of Ophthalmology. The team was awarded a CMI grant in December
2017. We interviewed her to discuss what’s next.
Can you describe the project and
what was done?
We are furthering the development of a novel gel bandage for
ocular trauma, specifically by exploring how it could be implemented at or near
the point of injury.
What did you originally intend to
Our intent was to give first responders additional options
for treating ocular trauma beyond just isolating the injury and awaiting a
specialist to come evaluate it. To this end, we proposed a series of studies
that would help us move toward that goal with our gel bandage material.
What do you consider are the major
accomplishments of your project?
The major accomplishment was the in vivo testing we did to
show that the material is safe and effective for wound healing and some studies
showing that we can apply and remove it without causing further damage. We also
did a lot of work to demonstrate that the right pressure can be maintained in
the eye while it’s in use.
What are your next steps?
Our next steps are to await some funding decisions and
continue the work and/or seek additional funding. We are also continuing to
explore the commercial potential for this product as we refine it.
Tell me more about yourself, what is
I’m an Assistant professor in the Department of
Ophthalmology but my background is in Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering.
I’ve been working in the area of ocular drug delivery and ophthalmic
biomaterials for about 8 years.