The Andover-based ophthalmic research and development company has developed a device -- called Topical Ophthalmic Drug Delivery Device (TODDD) -- that can deliver medications for an extended period of time through a lens inserted in the eye. The device has implications for the treatment of glaucoma as well as nearly all eye infections and diseases.
The company was the recipient of a phase one Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant in which it demonstrated that the device can therapeutically succeed. But in order to move forward, a phase two grant was needed to demonstrate that the device can be worn comfortably on human subjects. Unfortunately, their grant was submitted just as the economy was flagging.
That's where stimulus came in.
Stimulus funded the company's phase two SBIR grant of $1.6 million through the National Institutes of Health.
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"The need [for this product] is obvious," said Thompson. "This is a very well understood problem and this is an elegant way of addressing the issue."
As Thompson noted, glaucoma is the second cause of blindness in the world and patients need medical treatment to keep the disease under control. The problem is that keeping patients - the majority of whom are elderly - compliant with the necessary medication is very difficult. Drops are hard to administer and remembering to do it on a daily basis is tricky. "Compliance is the big topic in glaucoma," said Thompson. "Our product is intended to dispense drugs for 90 days."
Both Thompson and Leahy said that ultimately TODDD can be used to deliver medications for eye infections, dry eye, and inflammations - essentially anything that requires eye medication. "This will not only help people and improve their quality of life but it will also save the healthcare system substantial costs," said Thompson, who noted that the cost of servicing someone who is blind - a result of untreated glaucoma - is "astronomical"
"The stimulus grant lets us focus on our product," said Thompson. "Without these kinds of funds, a number of great ideas would die on the vine."