New gel to treat retinal diseases in development
|11 September 2007|
Researchers have come up with a solution to the problematic delivery of drugs used to treat age-related retinal diseases.
Treating such diseases as wet macular degeneration involves administering eye drops. However, the normal blinking reflex and the presence of tear fluid on the eye’s surface can remove the drops in seconds.
It has been estimated that less than 5% of eye drops could reach the anterior part of eyes and less than one millionth of a drop could reach the retina through topical drug delivery.1, 2
Similarly, using injections to the back of the eye is not only highly invasive but can cause distress to patients, as well as potentially causing further complications.
PhD researcher Yvonne Chen from the University of East Anglia’s school of pharmacy has developed an alternative way of delivering drugs to the retina based on “smart” polymers.
These polymers behave as liquids at room temperature, but in less than a minute, transform to a gel at body temperature.
The liquid is injected under the eyelid and deposits on the white of the eye. Once in contact with the increased temperature of the body, the liquid converts to a gel and provides a reservoir for the drug, allowing it to slowly move towards the retina over several hours. This gel system also prolongs the drug release duration so that controlled drug release can be achieved. It is hoped the less invasive gel will lead to better compliance.
hen said: “Experiments have shown that this new gel may well prove to be a breakthrough in treating retinal diseases, with major benefits to patient comfort and healthcare outcomes.”
Details of the research will be presented at the British Pharmaceutical Conference in Manchester, which ends tomorrow.