Bold ideas receive an early kickstart
Three new, innovative ideas have received a boost from CERA’s Innovation Fund.
Projects ranging from an improved method of delivering gene therapies to a tool that shows patients the inner workings of the eye have received early-stage support from CERA’s Innovation Fund.
Each of these big ideas is currently early in the journey towards use in the clinic, but all have the potential to have a significant impact on eye health.
This year’s three successful CERA projects are diverse as they are ambitious.
Associate Professor Rick Liu will investigate a splicing-switching gene therapy for the treatment of neovascular eye diseases such as wet age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
Associate Professor Elaine Chong has been supported to develop a virtual model eye that clinicians can use to give patients an inside view into conditions as well as how treatments work.
And Dr Sandy Hung has received funding to begin development of an improved method of delivering genetic treatments to retinal cells.
The support is designed to help these projects at different critical points in their development, from proof of concept to further development to facilitate potential industry partnerships.
Originally established from the generous philanthropic support of the estate of the late Ruth Chitty, CERA’s Innovation Fund was expanded using funds generated from the sale of CERA’s first spin-out company Oculo in 2021.
The Fund aims to repeat this success providing support for bold new ideas that need a kickstart.
One of the criteria for the projects is their potential to eventually be translated from the lab to the clinic for the benefit of patients.
The Innovation Fund also provides researchers with extra funding for patent applications, seed funding for start-ups and other early operating costs for companies incubated at CERA.
CERA Head of Commercialisation and Legal Tena Cheng says it’s fitting that the sale of CERA’s first spin-out company is now being used to foster a culture of innovation.
“This cycle of taking the success of our previous spin-out company and investing it back into new ideas strengthens our ability to develop future discoveries which benefit patients.
“Early-stage research can be challenging to fund, but through this sustainable model we’re able to help our researchers pursue their boldest, most ambitions ideas.”
The selection process for CERA’s Innovation Fund targets projects that would most benefit from early support.
“All of the projects that have received funding this year are exciting and ambitious, each one has the potential to improve how we both understand and treat eye disease,” says Shereen Tan, CERA’s Business Development Manager.
“I’m looking forward to supporting them throughout their journey.”