Headquarters: Vancouver, B.C. (and Menlo Park, CA)
Core drug delivery technology: QLT ($QLTI) is all about the Punctal Plug Delivery System, a minimally invasive, sustained delivery device designed for the front of the eye. In a quick office procedure, a tiny silicone device about the size of a pen tip is implanted in the tear duct to block the flow of tears. Over as long as three months, the device releases drugs into the eye.
Why the company, and its tech, matters: Drug companies have long struggled to develop and update effective eye treatments, in part because the eye tries to wash out ointments and eye drops, diluting their effectiveness. Patients often don't comply with using them, either, and other implantable systems under development offer more targeted drug delivery but are invasive. The punctal plug, which the company acquired from Foresight Labs in 2007, could deliver much higher concentrations and be more effective, without risk of damage to the eye. QLT is now actively enrolling 110 patients in a Phase II trial to use its tech to deliver a glaucoma treatment, with plans to report data from the trial by the second half of this year. If the testing succeeds, a pivotal Phase III trial would kick off next year. But a word of warning: Analysts so far give the glaucoma trial mixed reviews, criticizing design-related delays, as FierceDrugDelivery told you back in October. But the company has a revenue stream to fuel its efforts--from the drug Visudyne--which it developed with Novartis ($NVS).