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Showcase Spotlight: Samarendra Mohanty and Sulagna Bhattacharya

Updated: Nov 12, 2021

Reversing blindness is an impossible feat … until it's not.

The team at Nanoscope has been driven by that hope, spurred on by the short, but compelling question “What if?”

“What if you can restore vision to the blind?”

The TechFW client started pushing the envelope in 2009, the year Nanoscope Technologies was born. Since then, it has developed a range of bio-medical technologies, which include diagnostics, therapeutic devices and molecules.

Most recently, its commercialization partner, Nanoscope Therapeutics, has made significant advancements in the arena of vision restoration.

While treatment exists for certain types of blindness caused by opacity of lens and other front-of-the-eye diseases, almost 200 million individuals are partially or completely blind because of outer retinal degenerations, for which there is no cure … yet.

These retinal degenerations are inherited or acquired, and restoring vision in these individuals irrespective of gene mutations causing the retinal diseases will be an accomplishment to celebrate for mankind.

At the 2020 American Academy of Ophthalmology annual meeting, Nanoscope released positive data from its Phase 1/2a trial of gene therapy to restore vision in patients blinded by Retinitis Pigmentosa.

In September 2021, Nanoscope Technologies was awarded a $1.5-million Phase 2B SBIR Grant to advance ambient light activatable opsin gene therapy to restore vision for AMD patients.

Co-founders Samar Mohanty and Sulagna Bhattacharya chalk it up to passion, perseverance and a solid team.

At its core, they say Nanoscope wants to impact society in a positive way. While generating revenue and employment are incredible bonuses, giving hope to blind patients lies at the heart of what they do.

And this no longer is just hope. The Phase1/2a data showed fully-blind patients regained vision sufficient enough to significantly improve the quality of their lives.

Samar was introduced to the long-lasting challenge of vision restoration in retinal degenerative diseases by an ophthalmology collaborator at University of California - Irvine. Sulagna had been looking for a solution to a devastating retinal disease that affected her family member, and in 2013 she joined as an early investor with Samar. Sulagna left her successful consulting job/business to dedicate become the full-time CEO to Nanoscope’s noble effort. Later, they co-founded Nanoscope Therapeutics Inc.

Samar and Sulagna agree the hardest part of being startup founders is finding team players who truly believe in your idea and vision.

“We are lucky to have that,” Samar said. “The bigger and stronger a truck is, the more equipped it is to handle rugged terrain.”

According to Samar, the same is true on the entrepreneurial journey. “Passion drives innovation and provides energy and ways to overcome bumps on the road,” he said.

Samar and Sulagna said being open and flexible to new ideas during the entrepreneurial journey is imperative. “It is important to be married to solving the problem, but not to be married to any particular pathway of getting there.”

They mentioned having a few big breaks that have really helped Nanoscope get to where it is today:

  • Being the first company to receive Audacious Goal Initiative grant from NIH;

  • Efficacious outcome from its Ph1/2a clinical study restoring vision in blind;

  • 2021 Investigational New Drug approval for a Ph2b multi-site trial.

The exciting part of their journey has only just begun. Join us at the Impact Showcase & Awards in March to meet Nanoscope and get updates on their vision for others’ sight.


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