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A team of Birmingham researchers reached the IChemE Global Awards 2017 finals.

The team, led by Professor Liam Grover, Professor Ann Logan, Miss Saaeha Rauz, Dr Graham Wallace and Professor Nicholas Barnes, were finalists for the Biotechnology Award at the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) Global Awards 2017, after demonstrating an eye drop that can be applied following injury to prevent scar formation.

Scarring is a major cause of blindness. Current treatment for scarring requires surgery or transplantation, meaning that a patient remains visually impaired for a long period of time before a transplant becomes available. A lack of facilities in developing countries often means that patients have complications and end up having permanent visual loss. 

The University of Birmingham team submitted their £2.4m MRC-funded DPFS programme, ‘Development of a synthetic flowable dressing that prevents corneal scarring’. This had previously been awarded in 2016 and came highly commended in 2017, going head-to-head against eight teams from five countries (UK, USA, Belgium, India, and Singapore).

The researchers believe that this ground-breaking treatment will revolutionize the treatment of eye injuries and help improve the quality of lives of people all over the world by saving their sight.

The IChemE Awards celebrate excellence, innovation and achievement in the chemical, process and biochemical industries where entries demonstrated existing or potential industrial application, especially in the healthcare, food, agriculture, energy, water and chemical sectors. Fifteen categories saw more than 240 entries from 21 different countries.