Better than a needle in the eye: New medical device offers hope and relief for patients

February 2, 2012, McMaster University
New medical device offers hope and relief for patients
A close-up photo of the microneedles found on the surface of a new McMaster-developed device that can deliver drugs to the back of the eye. The device could offer more effective treatment while sparing patients the excruciating routine of having drugs injected directly into their eyes via syringe every six to eight weeks.

(Medical Xpress) -- Researchers at McMaster have developed a new system for delivering drugs to the back of the eye - one that could offer more effective treatment while sparing patients with vision-related diseases the excruciating routine of having drugs injected into their eyes by syringe every six to eight weeks.

Instead, the new system could deliver medicine painlessly to the back of the eye through a flexible patch that would typically stay on the eye behind the lens for as much as a year at a time, slowly releasing controlled doses of medicine to the vitreous body of the eye through a group of "microneedles" too small to feel.

The rubbery patch is designed to conform to the eye's contour and the needles can be tailored to reach specific layers of the eye as needed. The patch would be attached on an in-patient basis and would not affect the patient's when in use.

The team of chemical and mechanical engineers tested the system successfully on eyes extracted from , moving the concept a major step closer to being tested on humans. The innovation is described in an article in the online edition of the Journal of Biomaterials Applications.

The patch can be compared to medication patches used on the skin, but on a much smaller scale and using different materials adapted to the complex environment of the eye.

Such a patch would be a much more precise and effective vehicle for delivering medications to patients with such conditions as vision-related complications of diabetes and age-related , both of which are becoming more prevalent.

"There's lots of potential for treating eye diseases that we didn't have even five years ago. It's really exciting," said the study's co-author, Heather Sheardown, a professor of chemical engineering. "There are medications out there to treat these diseases. As we develop better delivery methods, isn't going to be something that has to happen. If we can catch the disease early and we can treat it early, we can stop its progression."

Sheardown's lab, which focuses on delivering drugs to the back of the eye, will turn next to developing a reservoir system to allow drugs in such patches to be replenished externally.

The technical challenge for the team that developed the patch device was not only to find a way to deliver drugs in such a challenging setting, but to use affordable materials so the system can compete with hypodermic , explained co-author Ravi Selvaganapathy, an associate professor of mechanical engineering.

"All these stringent requirements were daunting. But the design solution that emerged was elegant," he said.

The researchers received funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Explore further: Startup receives $4 million to develop drug delivery targeted to the back of the eye

Related Stories

Startup receives $4 million to develop drug delivery targeted to the back of the eye

January 5, 2012
Technology developed by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University for delivering drugs and other therapeutics to specific locations in the eye provides the foundation for a startup company that ...

Smart contact lenses could make eye drops a thing of the past

November 9, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- An Auburn University team of chemical and biomedical engineers led by Mark Byrne, the Daniel F. and Josephine Breeden Associate Professor in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, has developed a new ...

Whether we know it or not, we can 'see' through one eye at a time

October 17, 2011
Although portions of the visible world come in through one eye only, the brain instantaneously takes all that information and creates a coherent image. As far as we know, we 'see' with both eyes at once. Now a new study suggests ...

Recommended for you

Study advances gene therapy for glaucoma

January 16, 2018
While testing genes to treat glaucoma by reducing pressure inside the eye, University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists stumbled onto a problem: They had trouble getting efficient gene delivery to the cells that act like drains ...

New study offers added hope for patients awaiting corneal transplants

January 9, 2018
New national research led by Jonathan Lass of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has found that corneal donor tissue can be safely stored for 11 days before transplantation surgery to correct eye problems ...

Diabetic blindness caused and reversed "trapped" immune cells in rodent retinas

January 3, 2018
Johns Hopkins researchers have discovered a cell signaling pathway in mice that triggers vision loss in patients with diabetic retinopathy and retinal vein occlusion – diseases characterized by the closure of blood vessels ...

Ophthalmologists increasingly dissatisfied with electronic health records

December 29, 2017
Ophthalmologists' use of electronic health records (EHR) systems for storing and accessing patients' medical histories more than doubled between 2006 and 2016, while their perceptions of financial and clinical productivity ...

Higher omega-3 fatty acid intake tied to lower glaucoma risk

December 26, 2017
(HealthDay)—Increased daily intake of ω-3 fatty acids is associated with lower odds of glaucoma, but higher levels of total polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) intake are associated with higher odds of developing glaucoma, ...

Protein analysis allows for treatment of eye-disease symptoms with existing drugs

December 21, 2017
Demonstrating the potential of precision health, a team led by a researcher at the Stanford University School of Medicine has matched existing drugs to errant proteins expressed by patients with a rare eye disease.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.