Biomedical technologies firm Q BioMed has exclusively licensed a diagnostic marker that could be used to monitor the severity of glaucoma.

The potential use of Growth Differentiation Factor 15 (GDF15) as a biomarker for the eye disease was first identified by a research team at Washington University. The marker is expected to improve treatment options for glaucoma patients.

Glaucoma is characterised by damage to the optic nerve that results in progressive, irreversible vision loss. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, the disease is the second leading cause of blindness. Nearly 10% of patients that receive treatment still experience loss of vision.

The disease currently lacks a screening or diagnostic test that could accurately predict progression. It is estimated that nearly 100 million people will be affected globally by 2020.

“Completing this license is the first step in Q BioMed’s long-term commitment to provide a full set of clinical tools to support the treatment of glaucoma.”

Q BioMed noted that accurate monitoring of disease progression is necessary to preserve visual function.

Using GDF15 as a biomarker enables early detection of the condition compared with standard clinical tests. GDF15 is a member of the transforming growth factor (TGF-beta) superfamily. It was discovered by Washington University’s School of Medicine professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences, Dr Rajendra Apte.

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By GlobalData

The university team validated GDF15 in both mouse and rat models of glaucoma, as well as confirmed in human patients.

Q BioMed and its technology partner Mannin Research are developing a small molecule called MAN-01 for the treatment of primary open-angle glaucoma.

The biomedical technologies firm expects that offering a diagnostic as well as a therapeutic will cater to the needs of both patients and physicians.

Q BioMed CEO Denis Corin said: “Dr Apte’s discovery and invention of GDF15 to detect the severity and progression of glaucoma is groundbreaking. Completing this license is the first step in Q BioMed’s long-term commitment to provide a full set of clinical tools to support the treatment of glaucoma.”