Eye cataracts, leading to the loss of vision present a major problem for the aging population. This is currently cured by surgical procedure which requires a viscoelastic High Molecular Weight (HMW) product of Ophthalmic Viscosurgical Device to fill the space in the eye created during the surgery and to protect the healthy endothelial cells. Due to the growing elderly population, this market segment is expected to grow at least 7% per year and will reach €80 Mn in the EU and €240 Mn worldwide by 2014. The market need for (HMW) products is currently served by Hyaluronic acid (HA) and cheaper alternatives derived from cellulose with properties inferior to HA. The manufacturers have currently to rely on few suppliers of the high-quality raw materials i.e. roosters bred on a special diet. The animal nature of the raw materials makes the SMEs particularly vulnerable in light of a bird flu outbreak, creating the threat of losing up to an entire year supply of the raw material with a single outbreak in the region. In addition, using raw materials of animal origin in humans requires compliance with existing EU regulations (EC 1774/2002 and Directive 90/426/EEC, and also Directive 86/609/EEC, 3 R’s Declaration, and REACH). Hence EU SMEs such as ourselves realize that we should switch to a non-animal source of HMW substance, as a substitute to rooster combs originating HA. The main objective of the OkraVision project is to substitute animal based production of HMW HA with a cheaper and non-animal HMW substance: Rhamnopyranose–Galactopyranose–Galactopyranosyluronic Acid (RGGA) from the okra plant (fruit) with the targeted chain length of 800-1000 units, MW of 5-6 MDa, and the targeted zero shear viscosity of 1-3 Mn mPas for 1-2.5% aqueous solution. This will be done by developing a continuous and automised extraction and purification process of HMW RGGA from the okra fruit with a production efficiency of 3 g of RGGA from 1 kg (0.3% weight-to-weight) of sliced okra fruit.
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System finansowaniaBSG-SME - Research for SMEs
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