A team formed by HKUST biomaterial researchers develops the world’s first injectable hydrogel formulation that allows a long, sustainable release of protein therapeutics which can be used to treat eye diseases like macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Nowadays, patients with these diseases have to be treated by monthly injection for years, which is far from an ideal treatment regime.
Team member Yu Yu, a postdoctoral fellow in Biomedical Engineering at HKUST, said: “Drugs formulated with our novel hydrogel material could be injectable as usual but release slowly from the depot, potentially providing effective long lasting treatment on patients.”
The hydrogel formulation is set to be injected only once per year, sparing patients from having to endure monthly injections. This helps cut down medical expenses and lower the risk associated with repeated injections, Prof. Ying Chau, Associate Professor form Biomedical Engineering at HKUST added.
Looking ahead, the team will move on to human clinical trials in three to four years. In the long run, the team targets to apply the medical treatment to underprivileged regions in China and many others, helping the needy patients get the medication at an affordable price.
The new development brought their company NovaMatrix Ltd. the third place at the fifth annual HKUST One Million Dollar Entrepreneurship Competition which aims to foster entrepreneurship and identify the best business plans.