Age-related blindness: How a revolutionary eye-drop can address the problem

20170703080000, Nur Syarafina Mohamad Radzi
Age-related blindness: How a revolutionary eye-drop can address the problem
Recently, researchers made a breakthrough discovery by developing a revolutionary eye-drop as a new treatment for age-related blindness.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Data on Visual Impairments 2010 pointed out that age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the causes of visual impairment and blindness. Based on the data, AMD makes up 5% of the cause of blindness globally.

According to a review of the global prevalence of AMD and disease burden projection for 2020 and 2040, Asia will see the largest projected number of cases of AMD (a third of total global cases), and this is expected to increase more rapidly than other regions.

Causes of AMD


Various studies were aimed at analysing different factors that may cause AMD. A report published in 2013 stated that regular aspirin use is associated with increased risk of neovascular AMD.

This was the finding made by Gerald Liew of the University of Sydney and colleagues through a prospective analysis of data from an Australian study which included four examinations throughout a 15-year period. 257 individuals out of the 2,389 involved in the study were regular aspirin users.

After a 15-year follow-up, results showed that 63 of these individuals (24.5%) developed incident neovascular AMD. Other factors that have been found to be associated with AMD prevalence are the consumption of blood pressure lowering medications (including vasodilators) and genetic factors.

The revolutionary eye-drop to treat age-related blindness


Recently, researchers made a breakthrough discovery by developing a revolutionary eye-drop as a new treatment for age-related blindness. The eye-drop was developed by a team of scientists, led by biochemist Dr. Felicity de Cogan from the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Inflammation ad Ageing.

Currently, AMD is treated by means of giving injections directly into the eye. This is often a procedure which is uncomfortable for patients.

In the new study, researchers developed an eye-drop, which uses a cell-penetrating peptide (CPP) to deliver the drug to the relevant part of the eye. This needle-free alternative treatment is a procedure that takes only a few minutes. Dr De Cogan also said that the CPP-plus drug complex has a potential to be applied to other chronic ocular diseases which require drug delivery to the posterior chamber of the eye.

Advantages of the eye drop as a non-invasive drug delivery method


According to the information provided by the NHS, the common side effects of ranibizumab, one of the current medications given through injection to treat AMD, include minor bleeding in the eye, inflammation or irritation of the eye, as well as increased pressure within the eye.

Additionally, there is a need for monitoring and repeat injections. Monthly dosing and treatment with ranibizumab have also been shown to be among the risk factors for patients to develop geographic atrophy.

On the other hand, using the CPP-plus eye-drop as an alternative, non-invasive drug delivery method can help to reduce adverse outcomes, which in turn can bring about increased patient compliance. Another advantage of using the eye drop as a drug delivery method is in terms of its cost efficiency, particularly in the reduction of healthcare costs when compared to current treatments.

As mentioned by Dr De Cogan, the application of the CPP-plus eye drop can be extended to treat other ocular diseases in the future. This is a remarkable discovery that can hopefully pave the way for the development of novel, non-invasive self-administered treatments in the future.

Efficient and successful administration of this treatment would help to address current challenges, including matters pertaining to patient compliance. Ultimately, it is an innovation that would be a significant part of medicine and healthcare reforms through patient empowerment. MIMS

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Sources:
http://www.who.int/blindness/GLOBALDATAFINALforweb.pdf
http://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X(13)70145-1/fulltext
http://media.jamanetwork.com/news-item/study-suggests-association-between-regular-aspirin-use-increased-risk-of-age-related-macular-degeneration/
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140528145815.htm
http://www.southampton.ac.uk/news/2015/12/macular-degeneration.page
http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/news/latest/2017/05/revolutionary-eye-drops-developed.aspx
http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Macular-degeneration/Pages/Treatment.aspx
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3892560/