No More Eye Drops for Glaucoma
Scientists from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and the Singapore Eye Research Institute have jointly developed a new nanomedicine, liposomal latanoprost, that will allow glaucoma patients to do away with daily eye drops. The nanomedicine is delivered to the front of the eye via a painless injection and will stay and release the anti-glaucoma drugs slowly over the next six months.
Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness, especially for the elderly. The condition is caused by high intra-ocular pressure in the eye, which then leads to damage to the optic nerve. Conventionally the first line of treatment for glaucoma patients is the daily application of eye drops that can lower the high pressure in their eyes. This treatment is usually required for the rest of the patients’ lives because glaucoma is a chronic disease. The sustained-release drug therapy can provide months of control for glaucoma patients with a single application, compared to just hours with eye drops.
The new therapy has successfully gone through a pilot study with six patients conducted at the Singapore National Eye Centre. The treatment was shown to be both safe and effective.
Co-lead scientist Associate Professor Tina Wong, who is the head of the Ocular Therapeutics and Drug Delivery Research Group at the Singapore Eye Research Institute, said the new nanomedicine will benefit the elderly who often forget to use the daily eye drops, a lapse that leads to the worsening of their condition.
A release from the university quotes Dr. Wongs as saying, “It is estimated that at least ten per cent of blindness from glaucoma is directly caused by poor patient adherence to their prescribed medications. Many patients find it difficult to adhere to their doctor’s prescribed regime for many reasons, such as forgetfulness, finding it too troublesome, or they lack understanding of the disease. The results in this clinical study will open up a new treatment modality for glaucoma other than taking daily eye drops, and will greatly enhance patient compliance and improve treatment outcomes.”
Professor Subbu Venkatraman, Prof Wong’s research partner, notes that the successful study of liposomal latanoprost can be hailed one of Singapore’s early successes in the emerging area of nano medicine.
This is the first nanocarrier-drug combination that shows therapeutic effects for three to four months with a single dose. The tough challenges we faced were to make this nanocapsule stable and biocompatible, while at the same time controlling the release of the drug at the desired rate over months,” added Prof Venkatraman, the founding director of the NTU-Northwestern Institute for Nanomedicine,” she said,