Dr. Mike Wilcox studied biology of the eye for 30-plus years, leading him to develop Oculieve, a device to reduce pressure that causes blindness in patients with glaucoma. Neither preventable nor curable, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the U.S.
Aqueous Biomedical Inc., developers of Oculieve, seeks to “provide the world’s safest, most effective, long-term solution to glaucoma.”
Oculieve — which may be used in human trials later this year — resulted in part from research done on primates at the University of Southern California. The studies were conducted by Wilcox, a Springs resident who has a Ph.D. in biophysics from Purdue University.
Founder and chief scientific officer, Wilcox has done further research on rabbits at the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he currently has a laboratory, said Duncan Stewart, chairman of the board of Aqueous Biomedical Inc.
When Aqueous was in the process of applying for the U.S. trial with the Food and Drug Administration, the trial’s lead surgeon, Dr. Randy Craven, was recruited to move overseas by Johns Hopkins University.
“We’re now in the process of applying for a pilot study at the King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital,” in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Stewart said.
“If we could get started in the summer this year, that would be great,” Stewart said. “But we said that last year at this time too.”
The company obtained patents from the United States and Japan; the European Union patent is still pending.
Oculieve is the only device that enables a doctor to customize the size to the need of the patient after it’s been placed in the eye, Stewart said.
In March 2006, the company was named one of “50 Companies to Watch” by the Journal of Medical Devices and Diagnostics.
The company won first-runner-up at the Notre Dame business plan competition.Stewart estimated Oculieve is two years away from being marketed.
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