Project 9: Topical formulation for Posterior Eye Drug delivery

Diseases of the posterior segment of the eye are increasing considerably, in part due to an ageing population. One such disease, Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most common cause of blindness in patients over sixty, accounts for almost 10% of blindness worldwide. Its predicted global incidence for 2020 is 196M, rising to 288M in 2040. Typical treatment involves regular injections into the eye, which is associated with significant patient discomfort and potentially serious side effects, including bleeding, infection and retinal detachment. As such, there is an unmet clinical need for the development of new and improved drug delivery techniques to treat this and similar diseases of the posterior segment of the eye.

This project aims to address this challenge through the development of topical formulations using liposomes functionalised with cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs). Delivery platforms such as these could greatly improve patient comfort and outcomes by negating or reducing the need for ocular injections. Research and experimental work will involve the formulation of active ingredients (small molecules and biomolecules) into functionalised nanoparticles and the characterisation of these formulations using standard analytical and cell culture techniques. Pre-clinical studies will examine the extent of drug uptake and its impact on known disease biomarkers.

The project is transdisciplinary in nature, incorporating chemical, biomedical, industrial and clinical expertise, as well as being highly relevant to patients and industry.

The main phases of the research can be summarised as follows:

  • Formulation and characterisation of drug-encapsulating nanomaterials designed to act as a drug depot for posterior segment ocular drug delivery.
  • Innovative nanomaterials will be formulated to encapsulate the specific model drug compounds.
  • Functionalisation of the nanoparticles with cell penetrating peptides to enhance bioavailability.
  • The resultant formulations will be fully characterised and biological evaluation of these nanomaterials will be carried out on ocular cell lines and cytotoxicity evaluation will be fully determined.

Pre-clinical studies will examine the extent of drug absorption and its impact on certain disease biomarkers.

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