Innovative Technology for Drug Delivery for the Treatment of Eye Diseases and as an Alternative to Traditional Methods

Many ophthalmology patients face some problems that are related to the usage of eye drops. Many patients, for instance, do not recognize that the eye drops may lose their efficiency a few weeks after its opening or due to inconvenient storage. In addition, some studies proved that only 5% of the dose reaches the patient, as he/she loses around 95% of the dose during the administration due to the low viscosity of the eye drops. On the other hand, gels and ointments have higher viscosity than eye drops, however they cause vision blurry thus they cannot be used more than once just before bedtime but not during working or driving. Another solution was using contact lenses as drug carrier systems, however its high price acted as an obstacle from being used on a large scale.

Fortunately, it seems that this problem is going to be resolved soon, as a research team led by Professor Ibrahim El-Sherbiny, the founding director of Nanoscience program and the director of the Center for Material Science (CMS) at Zewail City of Science and Technology, and consisting of Dr. Islam Khalil, a postdoc and Isra Hussein, a PhD student and research assistant at the CMS has developed multilayered nanofibers-based matrix that could act as an innovative convenient ocular drug delivery system.

After testing the novel drug carrier system, it has been filed as a patent in UK as well as protected in many other countries. The innovated system can be used as a small ocular patch whose dimension does not exceed 2-3 mm to be placed inside the eyes beneath the lower eyelid. The used materials were designed in such away to be mucoadhesive so that they can absorb humidity from the aqueous humor from the eye then swells and starts releasing the incorporated drug in a controlled and sustained manner. 

Azithromycin was chosen to act as a model drug to test the novel ocular drug delivery system. This new system has been tested using different animal models such as rabbits and cows’ eyes to prove its efficacy in delivering the incorporated drug conveniently in a sustained and controlled manner along 10 days.

Additionally, the developed innovative nanomesh ocular inserts are very biocompatible and biodegradable so as not to provoke any inflammatory response inside the eye. Also, the used materials are FDA approved and can degrade easily and safely inside the patient’s eyes without any side effects. So, this innovation can be considered a novel approach to deliver ocular drugs easily and conveniently especially in chronic diseases such as cataract and glaucoma.