A gel that provides a ‘pro-healing’ micro-environment for the leading causes of preventable blindness has been developed by a company created by the University of Birmingham.

Healome Therapeutics Ltd will work to make the gel commercially available, initially for dry eye disease with a long-term aim to develop new therapeutics for delivery to the surface of the eye.

Developers said the novel fluid-gel material flows like a liquid and self-structures into a thin, clear, protective layer over the surface of the eye, which is gradually dispersed and cleared away by blinking over two to eight hours.

Healome’s formulations have been shown in studies to have anti-fibrotic properties, and it could be used alone or as a ‘carrier molecule’ to deliver other therapeutics.

Professor Liam Grover, co-founder of Healome, said: ‘There are many cutting edge drugs on the market or in development for diseases that affect the surface of the eye. One of the biggest challenges is to keep therapeutics on the surface of the eye for sufficient time for them to have an effect and more generally to regain or replace all the functions of the tear film.’