Boehringer leads investment in digital therapy for myopia

Digital startup Dopavision has raised cash in a seed funding round backed by Boehringer Ingelheim, to develop a smartphone-based digital therapy for myopia (short-sightedness).

Dopavision is developing a digital therapeutic that aims to slow down myopia progression in children and adolescents through the activation of dopamine.

Proof-of-concept experiments conducted together with a German university confirmed the scientific hypothesis behind the technology, which was filed for patent in 2017.

The company already has 1.4 million euros in backing from the German government and this seed funding round raised 1.2 million euros.

Lead investor was Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund, joined by business angel Ralf Meister and existing shareholder Flying Health in the financing round in May.

The team will use the capital to perform pre-clinical experiments, making it one of the world’s first digital therapeutics to be validated in an animal model.

The technology delivers light stimulation to specific photosensitive cells on the retina which in turn modulate dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is important for the regulation of eye growth.

High myopia is a serious medical condition that can lead to severe vision deficits like retinal detachment and even blindness.

Founded in 2017, Dopavision GmbH is supported by the German government via the “Industrie-in-Klinik” programme of the BMBF (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung/German Federal Ministry of Education and Research).

Dr Hamed Bahmani, Dopavision’s co-founder, said: “Since the light stimulus in Dopavision’s approach is delivered from a digital device like a smartphone, it is truly a digital therapeutic.

“Its specific advantage is that it’s invisible to the user, because the stimulated cells on the retina are not part of the image-forming visual system. Therefore, the treatment can be combined with other activities on the device like games or watching movies.”

Dr Oliver Reuß, executive director and investment manager of Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund, said: “This investment also reflects our strong interest in the back-of-the-eye disease area. We are convinced that digital therapeutics will play an important role as a treatment technology in health care in the future, and we’re excited to be part of the development of a breakthrough technology.”

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