Temporary Corneal Repair Solution

In future combat scenarios where the U.S. could face a peer or near-peer adversary, the ability to evacuate casualties from the battlefield, and even out of theater, will be severely hampered. Large-scale combat operations will put high numbers of Soldiers into a fight where tactical areas are highly contested and operationally degraded. Freedom of movement, whether by air or land, will be difficult such that moving supplies and causalities to/from the front lines could take days or weeks.

Unfortunately, blasts will continue to be a significant source of ocular trauma in the future fight. Without surgical intervention by an ophthalmologist, seriously injured ocular tissue is not viable after 24-36 hours. Given protracted evacuation timelines and a lack of specialists in theater, it will be impossible for the necessary specialists to treat these ocular injuries early enough to preserve the eyesight of these wounded Soldiers.

In order to address corneal and corneoscleral injuries earlier and in a way that is relevant to the future fight, a product that allows for temporary stabilization of corneal and corneoscleral injuries at a Role 1 battalion aid station is needed. The desired product should be simple enough for a medic or physician’s assistant to administer it under austere circumstances with little to no additional equipment, safe enough to use on any suspected corneal or corneoscleral injuries, and effective at stabilizing the eye such that it preserves the Soldier’s eyesight.

This program is intended to support the development of prototype technologies that allow temporary stabilization of corneal and corneoscleral injuries at a Role 1 battalion aid station. The research project award recipient was selected from the Offerors who responded to MTEC’s Request for Project Proposals (20-14-Ocular).

Eye-Aid System for Acute Ocular Injuries

Project Team: Critical Innovations

Award Amount: $1.28M (additional cost share = $258K)

Project Duration: 25 months

Project Objective: The patent-pending Eye-Aid™ System for Acute Ocular Injuries provides an ideal far forward solution to the problem of undifferentiated ocular injury, including full-thickness corneal and corneoscleral wounds of various shapes and sizes. It benefits or, at the very least, does no harm to the wide spectrum of potential eye injuries, while stabilizing, sealing, and preserving ocular tissues. Eye-Aid™ is simple and quick to use by Role 1 personnel, without preparation time or complicated administration processes. When foaming, Eye-Aid™ more easily spreads to cover irregular and amorphous surfaces (e.g., around prolapsed ocular structures), before setting into a solid structure that preserves, physically supports, and otherwise stabilizes injured ocular tissues, including full-thickness corneal and corneoscleral wounds of various shapes and sizes.

Reversibly Adhesive Hydrogel for Temporary Treatment of Traumatic Open Globe Injury in Austere Environments

Project Team: University of Southern California Ginsburg Institute for Biomedical Therapeutics

Award Amount: $2.06M (additional cost share = $81K)

Project Duration: 25 months

Project Objective: The Ginsburg Institute of Biomedical Therapeutics team from the University of Southern California proposes a multi-phased effort to develop and commercialize a temperature-sensitive reversibly-adhesive hydrogel material deployed using a custom single-use injector that allows for temporary closure of large open globe injuries in a 10-minute procedure in austere environments.

Adhesive Anti-infective Drug Eluting Hydrogel Patch to Stabilize and Treat Military Ocular Injuries

Project Team: GelMEDIX

Award Amount: $1.22M (additional cost share = $813K)

Project Duration: 23 months

Project Objective: GelMEDIX is a biomaterials and drug delivery biotechnology company currently developing an adhesive, biodegradable, light cross-linked patch to elute steroid directly to corneal lacerations after cataract surgery (GelPATCH). We propose to leverage the same core technology to develop a moxifloxacin-eluting patch to physically stabilize combat ocular injuries and directly deliver antibiotic to the site of injury. The patch’s mechanical properties, adhesion, biodegradability, and drug elution can be finely tuned based upon the ratio of different biomaterial components. The patch can be easily applied by Role 1 in less than 5 minutes. We are actively working with regulatory and manufacturing consultants to ensure swift commercialization of civilian products, and we will leverage these connections to ensure the proposed product is efficiently brought to market. We also are working with Maj. William Gensheimer, USAF MC Ophthalmology, to tailor the product for military needs.