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Published on 1 July 2011

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Diabetes-related retinal damage controlled by eye implant

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Drugs to treat diabetes-induced retinal damage can be released in a controlled manner via an implant fitted behind the eye of diabetes patients.

Diabetics can develop diabetic retinopathy, which untreated can lead to blindness. Engineers at the University of British Columbia have developed the drug delivery device to provide on-demand, controlled provision of drugs to treat the disease.

Current treatment for diabetic retinopathy, such as laser therapy and anti-cancer drugs, have unwanted side effects and require high doses. “We wanted to come up with a safe and effective way to help diabetic patients safeguard their sight,” says one of the researchers, Prof. Mu Chiao.

The device is triggered by an external magnetic field, which causes the elastic magnetic polydimethylsiloxane (silicone) membrane to change shape and excrete an exact amount of drug. It was found to maintain its integrity for over 35 days.

Further studies on optimising performance of the device, biocompatibility, and identifying all possible applications for different diseases, are required. It will therefore be several years before the device is seen in clinics.

University of British Columbia

 



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