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Inflammation plays a role in many diseases including sight-threatening diseases of the eye such as uveitis. Recently, inflammation has also been shown to drive the processes of pathological angiogenesis in Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and Diabetic Retinopathy (DR). Current methods for monitoring inflammation have limits and include direct visualisation by endoscope, PET or indirect measurements by biomarker assays. Inflammatory cells can also be visualised in humans by application of in vitro radionuclide labeling of leukocytes from a patient's own blood. Although this allows direct imaging of cell migration patterns, the resolution of the method does not allow tracking of single cells. This method is also accompanied by the risk of infection and high cost related to ex vivo labeling. Researchers at the Institute of Ophthalmology, University College London have identified a dye which is taken up by circulating inflammatory cells when administered systemically and that the labeled cells can be detected at the inflamed sites.
<h2>The Technology and its Advantages</h2>
Researchers at UCL Institute of Ophthalmology have shown that ICG, a fluorescent dye used as an indicator substance in cardiac, circulatory, hepatic and ophthalmic conditions can be used for visualising inflammation. The sterile lyophilisate of water-ICG solution is approved in many European countries and the United States of America as a diagnostic for intravenous use eliminated from the body with a half-life of 3-4 minutes. Here, the inventors propose ICG to be administered as a slow-release formulation, where it might be released over a period of up to 1 week. Such slow-release ICG has been shown by UCL researchers to be taken up by circulating leukocytes. The cells can then be visualised by a variety of known fluorescence detecting methods.
Inflammation is central to the three major eye diseases: Uveitis, Diabetic Retinopathy and Age-related Macular Degeneration and depot ICG would facilitate the detection of inflammation related to these. Machines used for detecting fluorescence are widely available in in general hospitals and most ophthalmology practices have facilities for ICG angiography.
In 2009 the number of Medicare allowed fluorescein angiographies were worth approximately $150,000,000. The inflammation test is estimated to be used on 20-30% of all ophthalmology patients and is expected to have a similar market size.
<h2>Intellectual Property Status</h2>
Patent filed PCT/GB2015/052318.
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The technology referred to herein is experimental in nature and UCL Business PLC makes no representations and gives no warranties of any kind, either express or implied, in relation to the technology and, in particular but without limiting the foregoing, UCL Business PLC gives no express or implied warranties of merchantability, satisfactory quality or fitness for a particular purpose.