Dr Iona Weir, Decima Health chief executive, will get the chance to pitch the eczema treatment she developed to a global dermatology conference in the US after organisers liked her abstract so much they asked her to be a keynote speaker.
Dr Weir will address the International Conference on Clinical and Experimental Dermatology in Chicago in May about Atopsis, a product that grew out of her PhD in 1997 on programmed cell death in plants known as apoptosis.
Her research showed apoptosis in plants was reversible, unlike in animals, and she was able to extract "critical reactions" in plants that could be put in a cream as a topical application for skin conditions in humans, such as eczema and acne. The extract encourages the body's immune response to attack affected areas and repair damaged cells.
"By manipulating this reversibility in plants I have been able to create Atopsis to manipulate apoptosis and immune function in human cells to stimulate cell repair and growth," Dr Weir said. Clinical trials in the US and New Zealand both showed a reduction in the symptoms of eczema, opening the door for a larger US study, she said.
Dr Weir won an international award for her PhD and was able to continue her research with a grant from the Marsden Fund. A grant from Callaghan Innovation helped fund the double-blind placebo controlled clinical trial completed by Southern Clinical Trials Group at the end of 2015.
Decima has set up a subsidiary, Bionona, to pursue global partnerships for the release of Atopsis. Bionona is chaired by Paul Dallimore, former executive chairman of National Property Trust and chairman of Highgate Group.
BusinessDesk receives funding to help cover the commercialisation of innovation from Callaghan Innovation.
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