Eye drops could replace injections for patients with macular degeneration

Dr Lisa Hill from the University of Birmingham:

“We believe being able to deliver new immunotherapies by eye drop instead of regular intraocular injections will be of great benefit to patients with AMD.”

Dr Hill from the University of Birmingham
Dr Hill from the University of Birmingham

What is the aim of this project?
Researchers from the University of Birmingham and Bristol are investigating a new immunotherapy treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration that could be given in eye drop form rather than the usual method of eye injection.

The research led by Professor Alastair Denniston and Dr Lisa Hill at Birmingham University, and Professor Andrew Dick at Bristol University, was announced by Fight for Sight in June 2018.

Why is this research needed?
Standard eye drops are currently unable to reach the back of the eye which means treatments for wet age-related macular degeneration are currently delivered directly into the eyeball though injections. These can be highly invasive and uncomfortable for patients. The ‘drop’ based therapies will also be evaluated for potential use in uveitis.

What method will researchers use?
The team will identify new highly targeted anti-inflammatory molecules together with a new ‘delivery system’ to enable the drugs to be delivered in drop form to the back of the eye.

Researchers have already identified a pivotal inflammatory protein in the retina that plays a role in age-related macular degeneration by regulating the cells that cause abnormal blood vessels and scar formation.
They have also developed a new ‘penetration-enhancing agent’ that can deliver drugs to the retina in ‘drop’ form, including existing drugs that currently require an injection, such as the anti-VEGF therapies for wet age-related macular degeneration.

What will this mean for people with age related macular degeneration?
Patients with wet age-related macular degeneration could benefit from treatment that is more targeted and has a greater impact with fewer side-effects. In addition, a new drop-based drug could reduce the need for uncomfortable injections.

Find out more about age related macular degeneration

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