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Eye drops improved by nanotechnology

By Tim Sandle     Oct 14, 2014 in Science
Scientists have developed a means to make eye drops more effective. The new method uses nanoparticles and it ensures that more of the active ingredient reaches the eye of the patient.
One concern with many forms of eye drops is that only a small quantity of the medicine applied in the form of drops can penetrate the eye. This is due to the fact that most of the liquid is washed away from the cornea by tear fluid.
To avoid this issue, a science team led by Professor Vitaliy Khutoryanskiy developed nanoparticles that have the ability to attach to the cornea. Through an attachment mechanism, the particles can resist the "wash out" effect for a prolonged time period. The nanoparticles are in the form of spheres and they are designed in a way so that they can be readily coated with a drug product. This means that, by attaching for a longer period to the cornea, the medicine is able to penetrate the eye more effectively.
The researchers are of the view that the nanoparticles will trigger a new generation of treatments for currently incurable eye-disorders such as Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). AMD is is a painless eye condition that generally leads to the gradual loss of central vision but can sometimes cause a rapid reduction in vision. The only therapy available for this condition is in the form of injections into the eye. Injections help to alleviate the condition, but they cannot currently cure it.
Discussing the findings, Professor Khutoryanskiy noted in a research brief: "Treating eye disorders is a challenging task. Our corneas allow us to see and serve as a barrier that protects our eyes from microbial and chemical intervention. Unfortunately this barrier hinders the effectiveness of eye drops. Many medicines administered to the eye are inefficient as they often cannot penetrate the cornea barrier. Only the very small molecules in eye drops can penetrate healthy cornea."
The findings have been published in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics. The paper is titled “On the Barrier Properties of the Cornea: A Microscopy Study of the Penetration of Fluorescently Labeled Nanoparticles, Polymers, and Sodium Fluorescein.”
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