1st place: Dr. Sonja Kleinlogel, University of Bern, received the highest score from the Panel for her innovation on a novel optogenetic tool (Mela-mGluR6) custom designed for retinal ON-bipolar cells designed to provide replacement light sensors for patients with retinal degeneration. The innovation received a very high score for "inventiveness", reaching a perfect 5 out of 5 from four of the six judges. It is understood that Dr. Kleinlogel and colleagues have founded a start-up company, "Haag-Streit-Medtech HSM", to which a license covering the technology has been provided by the University of Bern. According to Dr.Kleinlogel, estimated sales for an RP market are understood to exceed €2 billion and the company plans to license the opportunity to a large pharmaceutical company following Phase I/II studies.
2nd place: Dr Deniz Dalkara of the Institut de la Vision, Paris for her innovation to develop gene delivery vectors than can target genes to photoreceptor cells without the need of sub-retinal surgery. Dr. Dalkara and her team genetically engineered the commonly used AAV vector in a directed evolution process to iteratively enrich for AAV variants successful in reaching the outer retina from the vitreous. The impact of Dr. Dalkara's innovation may be significant in reducing the costs and efficiency of ocular gene therapy strategies in the coming years. Through UC Berkeley the innovation has already attracted significant industry interest with manufacturing and trial studies already well underway.
1st Prize of €20,000 Diego Ruiz Casas Spain Hospital Universitario Ramón y Cajal, Madrid Intraocular magnetic nanoparticles directed by a magnetic explant for vitreoretinal surgery
2nd Prize of €10,000: N. Pasyechnikova Ukraine Filatov Institute, Odessa The application of high-frequency electro-welding (EWBT) in ophthalmology