Myopia (short-sightedness) is at epidemic levels across the world: in parts of Asia over 90% of young people are afflicted and in Australia and the USA the prevalence has doubled in recent years1.

This epidemic has occurred within one generation and is caused by excessive eye growth. Myopia is not merely a costly inconvenience, but is a progressive disease, and is associated with glaucoma and cataract and can cause retinal detachment and is now one of the leading causes of complete blindness. Based on the current progression of myopia in young people, it is predicted that 1/3 of the world’s population will suffer from the debilitating consequences of very low vision or blindness from high myopia by the end of the decade. Spectacles (of ever increasing strength) can correct the shortsightedness, but do nothing to stop the excessive growth and its blinding consequences. There is currently no accepted treatment or cure.

Atropine and related compounds have been used in Asia based on initial encouraging results. However, its action as an anti-myopic drug is controversial,2 and rebound typically occurs.3, 4 Additionally, these agents are unacceptable due to their side effects and safety concerns with long term use. We have discovered a drug (not related to Atropine) that is safe and capable of reversing myopia in an laboratory model at low physiological concentrations. We have been supported by Newcastle Innovation to develop the IP, and have interest from a Japanese pharmaceutical company (Santen). Santen have requested a direct comparison between our drug and Atropine. Feedback from Brandon Capital and MRCF have also suggested this additional information that would strengthen our ability to attract commercial investors.

The aim of this proposal is to provide a direct comparison of our anti-myopia drug with Atropine. This will facilitate continuation of our interactions with an interested Pharmaceutical Company and/or attract an alternative commercial partner.

The outcomes are highly likely to be successful based on two relevant recent studies that will be presented at the International Myopia Meeting in China in September 2015. The first abstract is based on an assessment of 1300 school children on Atropine, and the outcomes were extremely negative in terms of both efficacy and safety. There is absolutely no doubt that a safe pharmaceutical treatment that safely blunts the rapid progression of myopia will generate significant worldwide interest and commercial support. At this stage, we need to undertake the proposed study to attract a commercial partner.

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