The grant forms part of >MedPharm's wider €1 million MedSpray project to develop a new range of spray dermatology treatments by taking existing off-patent topical formulations and reformulating them into a spray version.
The company is seeking to address the growing need in the $5.9 billion (€5 billion) dermatology market for both new topical and systemic products.
Spray technology is expected to become the delivery method of choice in the dermatology market due to its increased patient acceptance, particularly among the young, and ability to deliver increased efficacy with lower dosage rates.
"We believe that our MedSpray technology addresses these challenges, not only in eczema, but also in dermatology in general," said MedPharm CEO Dr Andrew Muddle.
Current treatments exist almost entirely of creams, ointments and gels, none of which is popular amongst their intended users, as market research shows that patients often prefer sprays over more conventional topical formulations due to ease of use, cosmetic and aesthetic reasons.
MedPharm also found through its own research with Kings College Hospital, London, that compared with gels creams and ointments, sprays demonstrated an enhanced drug delivery with better skin coverage at a lower dosage.
For its eczema spray, MedPharm is reformulating an existing prescription corticosteroid into a youth-orientated spray product.
"Although the market for topical treatments for dermatology is growing, the rate of growth for eczema is not growing as quickly as other sectors within the market because many of the drugs are older and have lost, or are losing, patent protection," said MedPharm CEO Dr Andrew Muddle.
"At the same time, the incidence of eczema is increasing, particularly in 16 to 24 year olds, a market group in which ease and convenience of use of a treatment is key," said Dr Muddle.
The US market for eczema is currently $700 million a year and each individual product makes between 20-70 million. MedPharm believes that this market can be revitalised with its new spray formulations.
"Firstly, we can reformulate existing drugs and thus extend patent life, and secondly we can offer more acceptable products," said Dr Muddle.
"We have already identified a potential pipeline of such products and the R&D grant will enable us to advance the corticosteroid spray towards clinical trials for eczema," he said.