17:33 PM

CMI Team Success Story: OcuDERM


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 do?

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 your background? 

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.