Eurostars project: SME specialized in biomedical analysis in the field of ophthalmologic devices and dry eye treatment sought

Research & Development Request
A Swiss consortium consistent of a university and two SMEs is preparing a Eurostars proposal. The aim of the project is to develop a portable electronic ultrasonic device for dry eye patients. The device will be capable to control and maintain a constant, selectable, interstitial humidity between eye and lens. The consortium is looking for a R&D performing SME specialized in biomedical analysis in the field of ophthalmologic devices and dry eye treatments for a research cooperation agreement.
Estimates on the number of people that have dry eyes vary from 10 - 20 % of the worldwide population. Methods used to reduce dry eye symptoms are artificial tears, special contact lenses and chirurgical treatment. Another way to reduce the negatives impact of the disease is to correlate dry eyes and ambient humidity. The conclusions will lead to a new medical device using the periocular humidity as a key to treat dry eye patients. Clinical studies show the positive effect of a controlled ambient humidity. They identify a correlation between the aqueous evaporation to the relative humidity close to the eyes surface. Another finding is the increase of the tear film lipid layer thickness caused by a higher relative humidity in the volume in front of the eyes.

A recommendation given to dry eyes patients is to use closed glasses with lateral windscreens. For esthetical reasons they are not well accepted by patients. With closed glasses it is possible to protect the ocular surface from evaporation and to create the appropriate humid (> 2%) micro-climate in the eye-glass interstice.

The objective of the project is to develop a medical device composed of glasses capable to create a micro-climate in an active mode, where the interstitial relative humidity can be controlled and maintained to a constant value selected by the patient.

The consortium is actually composed of three partners from Switzerland, a university of applied sciences and two SMEs.
The project will focus on the development of precision microtechnics device in particular to develop a controlled humidity micro-climate using external micro actuators combined with disposable capsules of active substances.
The consortium includes development, analysis and manufacturing expertise. The expertise already includes:
- Precision microtechnics systems (mechanical, electromechanical, plastic, etc.)
- Low-voltage and low-power micro-system
- Robust and precision control algorithms
- Monitoring systems of physiological parameter
- Drugs delivery system

The consortium is seeking an SME with experience in medical/scientific development. The partner requires experience in ophthalmologic clinical protocols, especially on issues related to insufficient functionality of the lacrimal glands (dry eye disease) and should be able to perform clinical studies to validate or develop a new device or product. Further required expertise should deal with:
- Effect of periocular humidity on the tear film lipid layer
- Impact of evaporation on aqueous tear loss - comparison of tear flow and evaporation in patients with and without dry eye
- Analysis of the closed chamber thermometry and humidity measurements in normal and dry eye patients
- Standards necessary for the development of an active medical device with disposable components (active substance capsules) for ophthalmologic sector

The consortium is seeking to involve a research partner compatible with the Eurostars definition of a R&D performing SME

The project duration will be 32 months and will be conducted in two stages. 1. Medical device development, in order to create a first experimental prototype that will be capable to control the relative humidity in the interstitial eye-glass volume using water.
2. Medical device optimization taking in consideration the results of clinical studies and data analysis of the first experimental prototype.

The outcomes of this project will include the presentation of a robust methodological co-creation framework for the development and testing of the dry eye treatment device and the design and realization of the demonstrator and prototypes to test and validate their potential for dry eye disease treatment.
The partner should come from a Eurostars member country different from Switzerland.
Eurostars supports international innovative projects led by R&D-performing SMEs.
The call deadline is March 2nd, 2017. The deadline for expressions of interests is January 5st, 2017.
Benefit and Advantages: - The development of the new device will help people with dry eyes pathology to cure and keeping the disease under control - The use and development of existing participatory design methods in medical care settings - The development of a model for design - dry eyes care through a comparative approach Innovations: The project will enable the consortium to develop the design interventions in response to actual dry eyes pathology needs, removing barriers and enabling people to improve their life quality.


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