Contact lens patch treats eye disease

(From left) Assoc Prof Wang Xiaomeng and Prof Chen Peng with the eye patch prototypes. Credit: NTU.

Eye diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration are notoriously difficult to treat as eye drops and ointments are rapidly washed away, while direct injections into the eye are painful and can cause infection and eye damage.

Inspired by drug-loaded microneedle patches used to treat skin diseases, a team led by Assoc Prof Wang Xiaomeng from NTU’s Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, together with Prof Chen Peng and Asst Prof Xu Chenjie from NTU’s School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, came up with a new spin to this technology—a contact lens-like eye patch.

NTU’s eye patch with microneedles. Credit: NTU.

In a proof-of-concept study in mice, drug-containing microneedles in the eye patch detached once the patch was gently pressed on the eye. The microneedles slowly dissolved, releasing the drug gradually into the cornea. Tests on mice with corneal vascularisation showed that a single application of the patch was 90% more effective in alleviating the condition than applying a ten-fold higher drug content in single eye drops.

Painless and minimally invasive, the patch could realise the unmet medical need of a localised and long-lasting eye drug with good patient compliance.

The study “Self-implantable double-layered micro-drug-reservoirs for efficient and controlled ocular drug delivery” was published in Nature Communications (2018), DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-06981-w. The team has filed a patent and is looking to partner clinician scientists to study the feasibility of conducting medical trials.
The article appeared first in NTU’s research & innovation magazine Pushing Frontiers (issue #15, June 2019). 

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