Is­raeli Com­pany Un­veils Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Ar­ti­fi­cial Cornea

CorNeat Vi­sion de­vel­ops new nan­otech so­lu­tion that could one day help re­store sight to mil­lions who have gone blind due to dis­eases of the cornea

The Jewish Voice - - HEALTH - By: Nicky Black­burn

An early-stage Is­raeli oph­thalmic med­i­cal de­vices startup has de­vel­oped a rev­o­lu­tion­ary ar­ti­fi­cial cornea im­plant that holds out hope to mil­lions of blind and vis­ually im­paired peo­ple suf­fer­ing from dis­eases of the cornea.

The nan­otech-based so­lu­tion by CorNeat Vi­sion of Ra'anana is a syn­thetic cornea that uses ad­vanced cell tech­nol­ogy to in­te­grate ar­ti­fi­cial op­tics within oc­u­lar tis­sue.

Af­ter successful ini­tial tests on an­i­mals, the com­pany plans to move to hu­man im­plan­ta­tions in Is­rael in the mid­dle of next year, and also to be­gin a larger clin­i­cal trial of 20 to 60 pa­tients in the United States.

Ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion, dis­eases of the cornea are the sec­ond lead­ing cause of blind­ness world­wide, sec­ond only to cataracts. As many as 30 mil­lion peo­ple are af­fected, with around two mil­lion new cases each year.

“Though [corneal dis­eases are] a pro­found cause of dis­tress and dis­abil­ity, ex­ist­ing so­lu­tions such as corneal trans­plan­ta­tion are car­ried out only about 200,000 times a year world­wide,” said 47-year-old CorNeat Vi­sion CEO and VP R&D Al­mog Aley-Raz.

“There ex­ists an ur­gent need for an ef­fi­cient, long-last­ing and af­ford­able so­lu­tion to corneal pathol­ogy, in­jury and blind­ness, which would al­le­vi­ate the suf­fer­ing and dis­abil­ity of mil­lions of peo­ple.”

CorNeat's im­plant, the CorNeat KPro, which is to be un­veiled to se­lect mem­bers of the oph­thalmic com­mu­nity at the XXXV Euro­pean So­ci­ety of Cataract and Re­frac­tive Sur­geons Congress (ESCRS) in Lis­bon, Por­tu­gal this week, has just been cleared by the Euro­pean Patent Of­fice.

CorNeat KPro uses ad­vanced cell tech­nol­ogy to in­te­grate ar­ti­fi­cial op­tics within res­i­dent oc­u­lar tis­sue. The im­plant is pro­duced us­ing nanoscale chem­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing that stim­u­lates cel­lu­lar growth.

“Un­like pre­vi­ous de­vices, which at­tempt to in­te­grate op­tics into the na­tive cornea, CorNeat's im­plant lever­ages a vir­tual space un­der the con­junc­tiva that is rich with fi­brob­last cells, heals quickly and pro­vides ro­bust long-term in­te­gra­tion,” said Aley-Raz.

The sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dure takes just 30 min­utes, and the com­pany be­lieves it can pro­vide an ef­fi­cient and scal­able rem­edy for mil­lions.

“The ground­break­ing re­sults ob­tained in our proof of con­cept, which is backed by con­clu­sive histopatho­log­i­cal ev­i­dence, are ex­tremely en­cour­ag­ing,” said Dr. Gi­lad Litvin, CorNeat Vi­sion's founder, chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer and in­ven­tor of the new im­plant.

“Our novel IP… en­sures longterm re­ten­tion, ro­bust in­te­gra­tion into the eye and an op­er­a­tion that is sig­nif­i­cantly shorter and sim­pler than ker­ato­plasty (corneal trans­plan­ta­tion),” he added.

‘Ex­tremely promis­ing’

Aley-Raz is the for­mer CEO of Per­say, a spe­cial­ist in bio­met­ric voice au­then­ti­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy. The com­pany was sold to Nuance Com­mu­ni­ca­tions

in 2010, and the busi­ness now brings in over $100 mil­lion a year to Nuance, ac­cord­ing to Aley-Raz.

Aley-Raz set up pri­vately funded CorNeat two years ago af­ter meet­ing the in­ven­tor on a moun­tain-bik­ing trip. “It was re­ally sur­pris­ing to me to see such a big prob­lem was not be­ing prop­erly ad­dressed,” he told ISRAEL21c.

“This de­vice is ex­tremely promis­ing. It's such a small de­vice but it in­te­grates so many dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines — chem­istry, bi­ol­ogy and physics. We are re­ceiv­ing ex­tremely pos­i­tive feed­back,” he added.

“The in­no­va­tive ap­proach be­hind CorNeat KPro cou­pled by the team's ex­e­cu­tion abil­ity present a unique op­por­tu­nity to fi­nally ad­dress the global corneal blind­ness chal­lenge,” said Prof. Ehud As­sia, head of the oph­thalmic depart­ment at the Meir Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Is­rael, a se­rial oph­thalmic in­no­va­tor, and a mem­ber of CorNeat Vi­sion sci­en­tific ad­vi­sory board.

Other ad­vi­sory board mem­bers in­clude Prof. David Root­man, one of the top corneal spe­cial­ist sur­geons from the Uni­ver­sity of Toronto, Canada; and Prof. Eric Gabi­son, a lead­ing cornea sur­geon at the Roth­schild Oph­thalmic Foun­da­tion re­search cen­ter at Bichat hospi­tal in Paris, France.

“Though [corneal dis­eases are] a pro­found cause of dis­tress and dis­abil­ity, ex­ist­ing so­lu­tions such as corneal trans­plan­ta­tion are car­ried out only about 200,000 times a year world­wide,” said 47-year-old CorNeat Vi­sion CEO and VP R&D Al­mog Aley-Raz.

A rev­o­lu­tion­ary new ar­ti­fi­cial cornea could one day re­store sight to mil­lions of peo­ple around the world. Photo via Shut­ter­stock. com

The XXXV Congress of the Euro­pean So­ci­ety of Cataract and Re­frac­tive Sur­geons

The nan­otech-based so­lu­tion by CorNeat Vi­sion (pic­tured above) of Ra’anana is a syn­thetic cornea that uses ad­vanced cell tech­nol­ogy to in­te­grate ar­ti­fi­cial op­tics within oc­u­lar tis­sue.

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