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Biomaterials researcher Dr Naa Dei Nikoi from the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Microbiology & Infection has won a prestigious Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellowship, to advance work on a novel method of drug delivery for diseases that can cause loss of vision, with the aim of forming a spinout company.

The application for the £60,000 Fellowship was supported by University of Birmingham Enterprise, who had previously filed a patent on the technology – a nanoparticle-based delivery mechanism that enables drugs to be administered to the eye by droplet rather than by injection. 

This route of administration would have a profound impact on the lives of people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  The usual treatment for AMD is monthly injections into the eye, a procedure that is administered by skilled healthcare professionals in a hospital setting. 

The nanoparticle-based delivery mechanism would allow patients to administer treatment by themselves, so reducing healthcare costs, as well as inconvenience and discomfort for the 600,000 people in the UK with AMD who may require treatment for their condition. 

During the Fellowship, Dr Nikoi will be working with Dr Felicity de Cogan from the Institute of Microbiology & Infection, and Dr Anna Peacock from the School of Chemistry. 

Dr Nikoi has a long standing interest in translational research.  She commented: “Age-related macular degeneration is a leading cause of vision loss in Europe and the US, and it is expected to become more common as the population ages.  I am delighted to have been awarded the Fellowship, which will provide the opportunity to bring a research idea to practical fruition in an area of high unmet need.” 

The Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellowship programme supports engineers who have an exceptional innovation that they want to develop further.

During the Fellowship, Dr Nikoi will benefit from the mentoring and support provided by University of Birmingham Enterprise, and expects to file further patents during the one year Fellowship.