Start-up receives Innovate UK funding for intraocular lens implant

9-May-2022

Cataract is the most common cause of treatable blindness worldwide and is treated with surgery, however there is risk of postoperative inflammation

Medtech start-up VisusNano has been awarded £1.39m from the Innovate UK’s Biomedical Catalyst programme to further develop MEDILens, a drug-eluting intraocular lens implant (IOL) for patients undergoing cataract surgery. The funding will allow the company to test the implant’s safety and efficacy humans, the next step getting the product to market.

The company has received match funding from Discovery Park Ventures and Oxford Investment Opportunity Network (OION) as well as follow-on investment from its original investors. This commercial funding forms part of an A round of £1.5M which the company says will close in the second quarter.

Cataract is the most common cause of treatable blindness worldwide and is treated with surgery, however there is risk of postoperative inflammation that causes pain and, if left untreated, loss of vision. Currently, inflammation is prevented with administration of eye drops for up to a month, with significant cost to the health economy and opportunity cost to patients’ relatives.

More than 400,000 cataract operations are carried out in the UK annually, and aftercare reportedly costs more than £55m per year for NHS services. Independent research conducted by VisusNano has shown desire from both surgeons and patients to use a drug-eluting implant to eliminate the need for post-operative eye drop regimens. According to the company, MEDILens’ ability to release anti-inflammatory drugs into the eye removes the need to administer eye drops while, reducing post-op morbidity, maximising patient convenience and optimising visual outcomes.

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VisusNano CEO, Dr Joanna Gould, said: “We are thrilled to receive the highly competitive Biomedical Catalyst funding from Innovate UK. We look forward to utilising these additional funds to accelerate the pre-clinical development of the technology and performing the first in human studies that are a critical step in the overall approval pathway. Thanks are also due to Discovery Park Ventures and OION for their support.”

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