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Eye Treatment Delivery Option to Syringe Being Developed

Close-up of microneedles arrayed on eye delivery patch (McMaster University)

Close-up of microneedles arrayed on drug delivery patch for the eyes (McMaster University)

Engineers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada have developed a new system using an implanted patch to deliver drugs to the back of the eye, as an alternative to direct injection with a syringe. The results of their research appear online in the Journal of Biomaterials Applications (paid subscription required).

The team led by Heather Sheardown, a professor of chemical engineering at McMaster, devised a flexible patch fitted on the back of the eye behind the lens, with small doses of medicine delivered with microneedles too small to be felt by the patient. The patch is made of a soft polymer polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) with the microneedles arrayed on the surface using a printing-style technology. The patch is then connected with microchannels to reservoirs containing the drugs to be delivered to the eyes.

The patch can be configured to conform to the contour of the eyes, with the microneedles set to deliver medication to the precise layer of the eye required by the patient. The patch would be surgically implanted for up to a year, delivering small doses over that period of time. Current delivery methods for drugs to treat eye conditions such as diabetes or age-related macular degeneration require injections with a syringe every 6 to 8 weeks.

Sheardown and colleagues tested the patch in lab tests on cow’s eyes. The next step, say the authors, is to develop a reservoir system to feed the patches with drugs from an external source. “As we develop better delivery methods, blindness isn’t going to be something that has to happen,” says Sheardown. “If we can catch the disease early and we can treat it early, we can stop its progression.”

Read more: Ophthalmology Drug Delivery Start-Up Gets $4M Investment

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