Scientists Engineer Drug Delivery Device That Treats Glaucoma Directly Inside The Eye

Source: University of California, San Francisco

Summary: Pharmacy scientists designed a new drug delivery device that can treat Glaucoma directly inside the eye and makes life easier for aging patients.

Glaucoma, an eye disorder, where the optic nerve is damaged and leads to blindness if left untreated early. It affects over 60 million people worldwide. Medicated eye drops can ease the fluid buildup in the eye (underlying condition of glaucoma) but aren’t the perfect solution for treating glaucoma. And also patients who suffer from glaucoma struggle to take their eye drops on time, generally required up to 3 times a day. Pharmacy scientists from the University of California, San Francisco designed a new drug delivery device that can treat Glaucoma directly inside the eye. This tiny device promises to simplify the way glaucoma drugs are administered and makes life easier for aging patients. The device was reported in the Journal of Controlled Release.

Drug delivery device for treating glaucoma

The tiny implant will dissolve, releasing the drug. Credit: Jean Kim/Desai Lab

The researchers toyed with degradable materials which can release the medication while dissolving in the eye. It was like a “sandwich” of biodegradable films surrounding an anti-glaucoma drug. With this design, enough drug can be loaded into this tiny device which can last over 6 months. The researchers implanted the drug-releasing device and measured the eye pressure on a weekly basis for 24 weeks. They observed that the device successfully reduced the fluid pressure inside the eye  (Intra-ocular pressure) with rare and minor complications. Researchers are hopeful that this drug delivery device will soon improve outcomes for patients suffering from Glaucoma.

Tejal Desai, chair of the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences said, “While there have been important advances in eye drop formulations, our device substantially reduces the burden of patient compliance in a safe and effective way.”

More Information: Jean Kim et al, “Long-term intraocular pressure reduction with intracameral polycaprolactone glaucoma devices that deliver a novel anti-glaucoma agent”, Journal of Controlled Release (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2017.11.008

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