May 24, 2014

Nanoscale College start-up doing groundbreaking glaucoma research

By: Jon Dougherty

Source: Time Warner Cable News

Big name pharmaceutical companies have their eyes on a local start-up company at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. The student-run business recently won a $100,000 grand prize at a statewide business competition, and as Time Warner Cable News' Jon Dougherty reports, they're making medical breakthroughs that are even surprising doctors.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- The Glaucoma Research Institute estimates more than 2.2 million Americans have glaucoma, but only half of those know they have it.

It's was a statistic that motivated Karen Torrejon, a graduate student at SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.

Torrejon is the Founder and CEO of Glauconix.

"We screen their [pharmaceutical companies] potential molecules or drugs that they're interested to possibly use for glaucoma treatment," Torrejon said.

Glauconix recreates human eye tissue and tests glaucoma medicine to see how effective it is. Its process also helps medicine reach the open market faster.

Until now, Glauconix said most glaucoma medicine has been tested on animals.

"It's something that they were lacking. So something they they're actually looking for. I think it's perhaps been a breakthrough in the eye and vision research," said Torrejon.

Their work has paid off big. In April, Glauconix won the $100,000 grand prize in the 2014 New York Business Plan Competition. It beat out 560 teams from 62 colleges and universities across the state.

"To me, it just means I have to work ten times harder," Torrejon said.

Torrejon moved to the U.S. from Peru when she was 16 years old. She's now 26 and said the company will use the money to help grow the business.

"It kind of gives you a little more power, strength and force to continue doing the work that we're doing," she said.