GLAUCOMA patients may, in the future, be able to replace their daily eye drops regimen for an eye injection once every six months, to treat their condition.
The injection to the eyeball is delivered under local anaesthetic by a doctor, and takes only a minute. It contains millions of tiny capsules of glaucoma medicine which release their contents slowly over time.
This breakthrough procedure was jointly developed by the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) and a team from Nanyang Technological University (NTU). Six patients were involved in the first human trials in February 2013.
“We conducted the trial to ensure that the procedure was safe, feasible and workable,” said Associate Professor Tina Wong, Senior Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Singapore National Eye Centre’s (SNEC) Glaucoma Service and head of the Ocular Therapeutics and Drug Delivery Research Group at SERI. Prof Wong developed the injection with the NTU team led by Professor Subbu Venkatraman, Chair of NTU ’s School of Materials Science and Engineering. The team is ready to conduct larger clinical trials, most likely in the US, and the injection is expected to be commercially available in about two and a half years’ time.
Prof Subbu said it took four and a half years to move from concept to trial. “Nanomedicine is currently being used to treat cancer. The challenge in applying it was to take an existing drug, put it into a nano carrier and control its release over a long period. For glaucoma, the drug had to act for at least three months. We believe this has not been done before.”
Prof Wong said: “We consider this a major breakthrough, not just technologically but also in the way we can administer medicine, apart from through eye drops, to our patients in the future.”
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Source: The Borneo Post