Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research shows potential of microneedles to target therapeutics to the back of the eye

24.07.2012
Thanks to tiny microneedles, eye doctors may soon have a better way to treat diseases such as macular degeneration that affect tissues in the back of the eye. That could be important as the population ages and develops more eye-related illnesses – and as pharmaceutical companies develop new drugs that otherwise could only be administered by injecting into the eye with a hypodermic needle.

For the first time, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University have demonstrated that microneedles less than a millimeter in length can deliver drug molecules and particles to the eye in an animal model. The injection targeted the suprachoroidal space of the eye, which provides a natural passageway for drug injected across the white part (sclera) of the eye to flow along the eye's inner surface and subsequently into the back of the eye. The minimally-invasive technique could represent a significant improvement over conventional methods that inject drugs into the center of the eye – or use eyedrops, which have limited effectiveness in treating many diseases.

The study was reported in the July issue of the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. The research was supported by the National Eye Institute, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, and by the organization Research to Prevent Blindness.

"This research could lead to a simple and safe procedure that offers doctors a better way to target drugs to specific locations in the eye," said Samirkumar Patel, the paper's first author and a postdoctoral researcher at Georgia Tech when the research was conducted. "The design and simplicity of the microneedle device may make it more likely to be used in the clinic as a way to administer drug formulations into the suprachoroidal space that surrounds the eye."

Patel, who is now director of research for Clearside Biomedical – a startup company formed to commercialize the technology – said the study also showed that the suprachoroidal space could accommodate a variety of drugs and microparticles. That could open the door for the use of timed-release drugs that could reduce the need for frequent injections to treat chronic eye diseases.

The suprachoroidal space is located between two important structures in the eye: the sclera and the choroid. Fluids injected into that space travel circumferentially around the eye, which flows drug solution directly over the choroid and adjacent retina – which are the targets for many drug compounds. The new study showed that injections of fluids containing molecules and particles into that space not only reach the targeted structures, but also remain there for extended time periods. And equally important, the molecules and particles do not significantly reach the lens or front part of the eye, where side effects from drugs can occur.

"The study showed that if we inject non-degradable particles into the suprachoroidal space and wait as long as two months, the particles remain," said Mark Prausnitz, a Regents professor in Georgia Tech's School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. "That means there is no natural mechanism to remove the particles from the eye. Knowing this, we can design biodegradable particles with drugs encapsulated in them that can slowly release those drugs over a period of time that we could control."

Currently, doctors typically have two choices for administering drugs to the eye: eye drops and injection with a traditional hypodermic needle into the vitreous at the center of the eye. While injections into the vitreous do reach their target, they also affect other portions of the eye where the drug may not be desirable. Eye drops, which are simple to use, often fail to reach the structures being targeted, Prausnitz said.

Henry Edelhauser, a professor of ophthalmology at Emory School of Medicine, said pharmaceutical companies are now developing new compounds to treat eye diseases. Those drugs will be most effective if they can be delivered directly to the portion of the eye that requires treatment, such as the choroid and retina that this new delivery method targets.

"With this technique, we are keeping the drug right where it needs to be for most therapies of interest in the back of the eye," he said.

The microneedles used in the technique are made of stainless steel and are less than one millimeter long. The researchers believe that they will cause less trauma to the eye than the larger hypodermic needles, and reduce the risk of infection.

The model compounds used in this study fluoresced inside the eye, showing researchers that they had reached their targets. But the compounds studied were not drugs, so the next step, according to Edelhauser, will be to study how well the microneedle technique can get real drugs to the eye structures of interest.

The technology has been licensed to an Atlanta-based startup, Clearside Biomedical, which plans to advance the micro-injection technology developed in collaboration between the research groups of Mark Prausnitz at Georgia Tech and Henry Edelhauser at Emory.

Clearside Biomedical was formed with the assistance of Georgia Tech's VentureLab program, which helped obtain early-stage seed funding from the Georgia Research Alliance. Clearside has received $4 million in funding mostly from Hatteras Venture Partners, a venture capital firm based in Durham, N.C.

In addition to those already mentioned, the study involved Damian Berezovsky and Bernard McCarey from the Emory Eye Center in the Emory University School of Medicine, and Vladimir Zarnitsyn from the Georgia Tech School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

Development of the intraocular microneedle demonstrates the strength of collaboration between researchers at Emory University and Georgia Tech.

"This project leveraged the skills of both institutions and came up with a solution that we could never have developed independently," Prausnitz said. "With support from the National Institutes of Health, we have developed a solution that could give patients with eye diseases the medication they need in a more effective way."

Henry Edelhauser, Samirkumar Patel, Mark Prausnitz, Vladimir Zarnitsyn, Emory University and Georgia Tech have financial interests in Clearside Biomedical and its ocular platform. Edelhauser, Patel, Prausnitz and Zarnitsyn own equity in Clearside and the terms of this arrangement have been reviewed and approved by Emory University or Georgia Tech in accordance with their conflict of interest policies.

John Toon | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.gatech.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator
23.02.2018 | University of Turku

nachricht Minimising risks of transplants
22.02.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>