A new type of eye drop has been developed by researchers at the University of Birmingham. The research team hopes the eye drops revolutionize the treatment of one of the leading causes of blindness in the UK.
The study results were published in Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, and could mean the end of painful injections directly into the eye currently used to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is an increasingly common eye disorder in the UK.
More than 600,000 people in the UK are affected by AMD and it is predicted that this figure will rise sharply in the future because of an ageing population.
AMD is a painless condition, but it results in people gradually losing their central vision, usually in both eyes. The disease is treated by repeated monthly injections into the eye over at least a three years period. Apart from being unpleasant for patients, the treatment is problematic as the injections can cause infections and tearing inside the eye. This leads to an increased risk of blindness.
Researchers, led by biochemist Dr Felicity de Cogan from the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Inflammation and Ageing have now developed a method to deliver the injected drug as an eye drop. Laboratory tests show that this has the same result as the injected drug. The drop delivers the drug to the relevant part of the eye within minutes by using a cell-penetrating peptide (CPP).
Dr de Cogan believes that the CPP drug could potentially have a substantial impact on the treatment of AMD by revolutionizing the drug delivery method.
Compared to current treatments, applying the drug effectively by self-administering it with an eye drop would lead to a significant decrease in adverse outcomes and would also lead to reduced health care costs.
The CPP-plus drug complex could also potentially be used to treat other chronic eye diseases that need drug delivery to the posterior eye chamber eye.
Dr de Cogan concluded by saying that the treatment is important in terms of empowering patients and reducing the cost of treatment to the national health system.