MassDevice Q&A: Jean-Marc Wismer

July 14, 2009 by Brian Johnson

The CEO of Switzerland's Sensimed looks to peel back the lid on glaucoma testing.

You literally cannot see glaucoma coming.

Although it's one of the leading causes of blindness in the world, frighteningly little is known about a disease group that affects 4 percent of the world's population over the age of 40. No cure is on the horizon. And due to the insidious nature of the disease, which stars gradually affecting sight from the periphery, most people don't even know they're suffering from glaucoma until it's too late.

Swiss diagnostics company Sensimed AG sees this mysterious disease as a real opportunity.

Representatives from the firm, in Boston last week for the World Glaucoma Congress, say the company is developing a new type of contact lens-based diagnostic tool, designed to generate more accurate blueprints for the treatment of glaucoma. Current clinical solutions are dominated by large pharma companies like Pfizer and Allergan (which made news in January when it repackaged its Lumigan eye drops for glaucoma into Latisse, an FDA-approved treatment to help grow thicker eyelashes).

Unlike the several companies developing contact lenses as a platform for drug delivery, Sensimed's idea is to use them as a platform for diagnostics.

The company's first product, the Sensimed Triggerfish, uses micro-electro-mechanical systems technology embedded in a regular-sized soft contact lens. When connected to a loop-antenna and a micro-processor with an analog/digital telemetric system, it takes 24-hour, continuous measurements of the eye. It's designed to allow patients to sleep in their own homes, rather than dossing down in a sleep lab, with an eye toward beginning to provide some answers to this mysterious disease.

MassDevice spoke with Sensimed CEO Jean-Marc Wismer about the technology, its upcoming date with the FDA and a possible U.S. headquarters in Boston.

MassDevice: What is the standard of care for glaucoma patients and how does Sensimed fit into that?



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