BioTime, Jade extend hydrogel license for human-eye use

BioTime ($BTX), the Alameda, CA-based maker of a hydrogel technology for drug delivery, signed an exclusive sublicense agreement with Jade Therapeutics to allow the Utah company to use the hydrogel in its own sustained-release treatments for the eye.

Jade designs solutions for corneal healing following damage to the eye from disease or injury, delivering recombinant human growth hormone to activate cells involved in the tissue-building process. One such product is the company's novel bioresorbable solution that delivers a growth hormone to the eye over a period of about a week to treat persistent corneal epithelial defects, according to a release.

To improve this drug-releasing capacity, BioTime's HyStem hydrogel technology, developed by its Glycosan arm, will offer Jade the opportunity to deliver the hormones within a web of molecules that resemble the human extracellular matrix, the company says. Currently, HyStem has a wide variety of uses from wound healing to the treatment of ischemic stroke, brain cancer, vocal fold scarring and cardiac infarct.

"We have evaluated a variety of potential polymer-based drug delivery systems, and we believe that HyStem hydrogels provide an excellent combination of the required physical properties to enable broad ocular use," Jade CEO Arthur Klausner said in a statement. "We will also benefit significantly from the extensive pre-clinical work that BioTime has performed on its hydrogels outside the field of ophthalmology."

The new agreement is an expansion of a previously announced sublicense, this time allowing the delivery of all potential therapeutic molecules to the human eye. It excludes the use of HyStem to make punctal plugs and diagnostic and research reagents, as well as any use in nonhuman areas.

- here's the release

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