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Government pushes ocular projects for commercial development

Projects to develop decision support software for macular disease, sustained release ocular implants and a control sleeve for intravitreal injections are a step closer to commercial development, following the latest round of government research grants.

Five ophthalmic programs featured among 17 ground-breaking medical projects that will share $14.7 million provided under the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF). The fund comprises $8.9 million through the BioMedTech Horizons (BMTH) program and more than $5.8 million through the Biomedical Translation Bridge (BTB) program.

Under the BMTH program, which aims to progress technologies to proof-of-concept and commercial development phases, four ophthalmic entities received funding.

This included Victorian company Macuject Pty Ltd, which is developing AI-based clinical decision support software for intravitreal management of age-related macular degeneration.

Fellow Victorian firm PolyActiva Pty Ltd will use its funding to advance its sustained release ocular implants for delivery of steroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications to the eye. This is for the prevention and treatment of macular oedema.

Enlighten Imaging Pty Ltd, also from Victoria, is developing a novel hyperspectral retinal imaging platform for next generation artificial intelligence diagnostics.

New South Wales-based IDE Group also received funding and will develop a control sleeve for intravitreal injection systems.

Eight projects across Australia will share more than $5.8 million in the first funding round of the BTB program. The funding aims to nurture the translation of new therapies, technologies and medical devices through to the proof-of-concept stage.

The Australian National University, in the Australian Capital Territory, was the only eyecare-related firm to secure funding from this program.

It is working on rapid and objective eye and brain testing for better management of ophthalmic and neurological diseases.

Industries are backing the BMTH and BTB projects by providing $10.6 million and $14.6 million in matching contributions, respectively.