Major boost for age-related macular degeneration

Image:Diprose Media (l-r) Team ErythroSight: Riya Palchaudhuri, Yvette Wooff, Adrian Cioanca, Rakshanya Sekar and Riccardo Natoli
7 December 2023

A team of researchers from The Australian National University (ANU) have received a major boost in their efforts to develop innovative treatments for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and other retinal diseases.

The ErythroSight team, composed of Riccardo Natoli from the ANU School of Medicine and Psychology, Yvette Wooff, Adrian Cioanca and Rakshanya Sekar from the ANU John Curtin School of Medical Research, and supported by Riya Palchaudhuri from ANU Research Innovation Services, has been selected to join a 15-week program to help turn their ideas into a market-ready company.

The team has developed a novel therapeutic and manufacturing pipeline that harnesses red blood cell extracellular vesicles to treat retinal degenerations such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), one of the leading causes of incurable blindness in the developed world.

Dr Wooff explained, “Through the ON Accelerate program, offered by CSIRO, our goal is to take our preclinical data into clinical trials and begin our commercialisation journey.”

“The end goal of this program is to have a highly viable disruptive deep-tech venture which can be attractive for external funding and launched into market, along with the business and commercialisation skills to drive it there,” said Dr Wooff.

The ON Accelerate program supports research teams to develop a market ready viable company. The program focuses on business model development, market validation capital raising and media training.

Successful teams get access to venture capital groups, experts in a variety of business relevant fields (finance, start-up founders, IP lawyers, entrepreneurs) as well as a dedicated mentor throughout the program.

Twenty teams were selected to attend Bootcamp in Sydney, where they were quickly placed in the deep-end with five rounds of investor and expert ‘speed dating’ to pitch the company, lead product, and team. From there the top 12 teams were chosen to advance to ON Accelerate, which starts in February 2024 with immersion week in Brisbane.

All 12 teams will travel around Australia over the next six months and have virtual sessions with experts and mentors as well as the CSIRO team in between.