The implant, based on technology developed at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Basel, liberates the active ingredient of the medicine by means of an infrared LED light, which activates the production of therapeutic proteins by genetically modified cells present in the device.
According to Doctor Esther Hurtós, the coordinator of the consortium, “Optogenerapy will enable a more efficient and less invasive therapy for multiple sclerosis patients, who will not require the regular injections they are now subject to. It will also improve their quality of life thanks to a “more efficient therapy” and “better adherence to the medication” (the efficiency of the treatment), which is currently between 50 and 75 percent for cases of chronic illness.
Marc Folcher, senior scientist at ETHZ, pointed out that “Optogenerapy’s optogenetic therapy will reduce the direct and indirect costs of sclerosis treatment in the medium term,” and will avoid “the expenses of non-adherence to the treatment,” which amounted to 255.4 million Euros in Europe as a whole in 2015.
The first phase of development of the consortium, led by the Eurecat technology center, will last for 36 months and has eleven partners from seven different countries in Europe, including research centers, universities and specialized companies. More specifically, the participants in the project are the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, the Lodz University of Technology in Poland, the Erasmus University of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, the National Health and Medical Research Institute of France, the global company Boston Scientific, which wishes to take the product to the market, geneXplain from Germany, and the Spanish entities Neos Surgery, Ultrasion, Twoptics Systems Design and UNE.
Optogenerapy’s budget is 6.2 million Euros, of which 4.8 million are financed by the European Commission within the Horizon 2020 program.