A tiny eye patch that can deliver drugs into the eye for the treatment of diseases is presented in Nature Communications. The device, which was tested in mice, could potentially enable patients to apply treatments for eye disorders at home in the future.
Many medications for vision-threatening diseases (such as glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration) are safest and most effective when delivered directly into the eye. However, injection can cause problems ranging from discomfort, to infections and serious eye damage, while eye drops can be washed out and are often inefficient.
Peng Chen and colleagues developed a millimetre-sized patch with an array of microneedles that inserts drugs in a controlled manner into the eyeball. The microneedles dissolve over time, slowly releasing the drug into their surroundings. In mice, the patch was applied by a gentle and brief thumb-pressing on the ocular surface. Using the eye disease corneal neovascularization as a model, the authors demonstrated that delivery of the monocolonal antibody DC101 using the eye patch achieved about a 90% reduction in the neovascular area with a single treatment in mice. In comparison, eye drop application, even at much higher doses, failed to show significant therapeutic effects.
Moving forward, clinical studies will be required to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of this new device for humans.