Australian biotechnology company Biosignal and the Institute for Eye Research have received ethics approval for the first human clinical trial of an antibacterial extended-wear contact lens.
The ASX-listed company commercialises a novel anti-bacterial technology identified by University of New South Wales (UNSW) researchers at the Centre for Marine Biofouling and Bioinnovation.
The trial, which began yesterday, June 29, will compare the safety performance of an antibacterial contact lens to that of a standard contact lens.
The comparison involving ten people will evaluate eye health, lens performance on the eye and wearers’ subjective responses. Biosignal will announce the trial’s results to the market in July.
“Adverse events caused by microbial contamination of contact lenses are a major impediment to more convenient, extended wear of contact lenses,” says UNSW Professor Mark Willcox, who will supervise the trial. “This trial is the first significant step towards overcoming this significant problem.”
Acute red eye occurs in 20 percent per year of the estimated 100 million wearers of contact lenses worldwide. Microbial keratitis, a serous eye disease that can cause blindness, occurs in one in 500 contact lens wearers per year if they sleep in lenses. There is currently no antibacterial contact lens in the market.
Biosignal’s technology prevents and disrupts microbial infection by “jamming” the signalling systems bacteria rely on to form biofilms. Because the technology does not kill bacteria, Biosignal’s technology is less likely to create the drug-resistance problems that plague current anti-microbial treatments. The US Centers for Disease Control estimate that biofilms account for at least two-thirds of all chronic bacterial infections.
Biosignal and the Institute for Eye Research have tested antibiofilm compounds and generated proof of concept data in a broad range of product categories in the medical, industrial and consumer fields.