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Founder and Chief Executive Offier
Founder and Chief Executive Offier
Langston Suen began his journey towards the improvement of drug delivery systems because it was close to his heart. "I started working on drug delivery science, way before I started this company, because my mother got cancer back in 2006. While the target therapy didn’t work, I saw the side effects were much less than traditional chemotherapy, so it inspired me to see how I could lessen the pain of future patients," says Langston.
The Founder and CEO of Opharmic Technology, which has developed its very own non-invasive ultrasound technology for drug delivery, had driven himself to constantly improve and develop his solutions to make topical drug delivery to the eyes less invasive and challenging for patients. Opharmic’s proprietary ultrasound technology allows therapeutics to be delivered non-invasively, boosting convenience and speed while lessening the amount of pain that patients need to go through.
Langston started researching ultrasound-assisted diffusion during his PhD degree at HKUST. His pursuit of passion saw him collaborating with the likes of the Hong Kong Eye Hospital, and earned him accolades – Opharmic’s ocular drug delivery device. It is a drug delivery technology that goes through the sclera (the white part of the eye) using a compact ocular drug release device featuring ultrasound-assisted diffusion. It slowly delivers the drug from the episclera into a patient’s eye. As the retina is located beneath the sclera, this is the closest way for the drug to reach the retina (the layer of tissue in the back of your eye that senses light and sends images to your brain).
The product completed pre-clinical testing in Hong Kong at the end of 2020, showing that the technology does not damage the eyeball and vision, and is as efficient as conventional intravitreal injection.
Having graduated from HKUST, Langston joined the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) Incu-Bio Programme. Opharmic recently won the Grand Prize Award and Product Development Award from the Medtech Innovator Asia Pacific Program. But does he feel like a start-up? "Although we have a hard-working start-up philosophy, we are establishing ourselves as a corporation with big pharma knocking on the door, so I’m glad to see we are helping patients in a real way, and that huge organizations see the potential for other applications," he says.
At the center of Langston’s rise has been his time at HKUST, where he joined business competitions, represented the University in regional meets, and conducted much of his initial research. "The hardest time was when we first went to market. It was a wake-up call, and even painful, when trying to covert ground-breaking products into commercial applications. But you have to soldier through," Langston says.
For Langston, some of his happiest times were at HKUST, where he could focus purely on research with comprehensive facilities and hardware at his fingertips 24/7. "Nowadays there are even more opportunities, so I would urge current students to explore and make the most of it," he says. If students are able to follow in Langston’s footsteps, all while retaining their charm and modesty, HKUST has a bright future indeed.
Know more about Langston's story from HKUST Alumni Magazine - Winter 2021 Issue