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East Midlands Chamber News

Uni spin-out funded for ground-breaking eye care

University of Nottingham spin-out, NuVision, has received £379k seed funding from Mercia Fund Management to help develop innovative new eye care solutions for humans and animals.

The funding from Mercia will support the commercialisation of NuVision's ground-breaking product, Omnigen, an easy to use, dry, amniotic membrane-derived biological bandage that can be used to treat ocular wounds caused by scratches, blisters and burns, as soon as they occur, as well as more long-term, non-healing persistent defects.

Omnigen is produced using a pioneering manufacturing process called Tereo, which was developed by the extensive research and expertise of the ophthalmic team at The University of Nottingham.

Mercia Fund Management (MFM), a national fund management business with a focus on the Midlands, North and Scotland, has committed £379,000 in seed funding to NuVision Biotherapies, a University of Nottingham spinout developing effective and affordable eye care medical solutions for humans and animals.

Founded by Professor Harminder Dua, a world-renowned ophthalmologist and Dr Andrew Hopkinson, Principle Research Fellow in Academic Ophthalmology at The University of Nottingham, NuVision has successfully harnessed the restorative and protective potential of amniotic membrane, the sac surrounding the baby during pregnancy, which is usually discarded at birth. Market demand for amnion products in the EU alone is valued at €48m a year.

Omnigen, which is the result of 13 years of research, also supported by the British Ministry of Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, can potentially save people from blindness caused by injury to the cornea. A dry, sterile Omnigen disc can be glued directly on to the ocular surface during reconstructive surgery, and permanently sutured in position.

Most uniquely, it can also now be used immediately after injury, applied in the emergency room and held in place by a conformer contact lens. Rapid in vivo rehydration from eye moisture then initiates the release of beneficial amnion constituents, acting quickly to help relieve pain and stabilise the eye injuries of anyone, from a pet, to soldiers on the battlefield.

NuVision's innovative product also eliminates the problems inherent in using frozen amniotic membrane, which is unsuitable for emergency dispatch, loses its potency during the thawing process and must be used within 48 hours. The flexible, dry and stable design means that Omnigen can be uniquely stored on the shelf at every hospital, or carried in the field in ambulances and first aid kits and used whenever it is needed. It is also of a consistently high quality, helping to quickly and effectively treat the 120,000 corneal injuries that occur each year in the UK alone.

Peter Dines, Investment Director and Head of Life Sciences at Mercia Fund Management, said: "NuVision is the perfect example of the potential that university spin-outs have in the UK - a great team, innovating research and a product set to revolutionise ophthalmic care worldwide are just a few of the reasons why we chose to back NuVision with seed funding. We look forward to supporting them as they begin to commercialise Omnigen and the Tereo process."

Dr Andrew Hopkinson, Chief Executive of NuVision Biotherapies, said: "We are grateful to Mercia for this investment, and we look forward especially to working with Peter Dines, who has extensive experience working with businesses in the life sciences sector.

"With a strong, experienced team, plus a pipeline of innovative products coming from The University of Nottingham, NuVision has endless potential for growth!"

Dr George Baxter, Director of Business Engagement and Innovation Services at The University of Nottingham, said: "I am very pleased that Mercia has invested in NuVision and will help to take the company to the next stage of its development. NuVision's ground-breaking Omnigen product, which is based on technology developed at The University of Nottingham, has huge potential in the treatment of ocular injuries. There has already been a significant amount of interest in the product around the world from both veterinary and human ophthalmologists who can see the tremendous potential of Omnigen."

NuVision is now based in MediCity, Nottingham.