Eye drops may soon replace gene therapy injections for Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Diabetic Retinopathy. 1 Delivering drugs to the back of the eye currently requires an invasive injection. The associated discomfort discourages many patients from consenting to this type of treatment. The new delivery technique is special eye drops that gently make their way to the back of the eye.
Excessive blood vessel growth is damaging to the eye. Diseases such as macular degeneration and proliferative diabetic retinopathy can result in blood vessels growing too much in the eye. The excessive blood vessels lead to vision impairment and blindness. Scientists are developing genetic therapies to halt or slow down the growth of these unwanted blood vessels. This activity is in the back of the eye; therefore, any drug for the condition needs to get to the rear part of the eye.
The new technique uses a peptide called penetratin. This molecule easily permeates the eye. The method also uses poly(amidoamine), a polymer that has already proven itself as useful for drug delivery. In animal studies, the eye drops moved quickly from the surface of the eye to the back of the eye. The chemicals stayed in the retina for more than 8 hours. This is sufficient time for the drug to work.
Editor’s Note: Choroidal neovascularization, also called “wet” Macular Degeneration (ARMD), is an overgrowth of blood vessels that harms vision. Its causes include macular degeneration, myopia, and ocular trauma. Once the process starts, it is difficult or impossible to stop. Researchers are currently testing new drugs for this condition. To help prevent the problem, take care of your eyes throughout your life with proper nutrition, regular exercise, avoiding smoking, managing your weight, doing eye exercises, and wearing sunglasses. A large body of research shows that a healthy lifestyle can have a significant impact on your vision health. Choroidal neovascularization in wet ARMD is your body’s attempt to heal itself. However, the fluid, blood and excess blood vessels cause scarring, which impairs vision.
- “Facile Noninvasive Retinal Gene Delivery Enabled by Penetratin” by Chang Liu, Kuan Jiang, Lingyu Tai, Yu Liu, Gang Wei, Weiyue Lu, and Weisan Pan. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2016, 8 (30), pp 19256–19267 DOI: 10.1021/acsami.6b04551 Publication Date (Web): July 11, 2016 ↩