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Published on 19 September 2008

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Drug-delivery system for the eye


A new method for delivering medicine into a patient’s eye – usually a difficult area in which to administer a drug – has been developed by a chemical engineer in the US.

The eye is designed to keep foreign objects out, so when material does enter the eye, it is often washed away by tears. Some estimates claim that as little as 1% of medicine intended for the eye actually manages to hit its mark.

Scientists have in the past developed contact lenses which allow the eye to slowly absorb the substance. But getting enough of the drug into the lens to be clinically effective has proved difficult.

Now a contact-lens material that can hold much greater concentrations of drugs has been developed by Mark Byrne, from the Auburn University in Alabama. The substance also allows for a slower release, which was difficult to achieve in previous lenses.

Dr Byrne designed the molecular structure of the lens material to mimic tissue-receptor sites that the drug will target within the body. The dummy receptors strike a balance by not holding the drug too tight and also releasing it slowly into the eye.

A new company – OcuMedic – has been set up to commercialise the idea.

Copyright PA Business 2008

Lens patent

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