Published: 22 Jun 2022 15:55 GMT
Multiple injections into the retina of the eye carry a risk of infection because of the hole they leave behind, so an international team of researchers designed an ultrathin microneedle that stays in the eye after drug administration and then breaks down.
The microneedle is coated with a therapeutic drug that is gradually released upon insertion into the eyeball, and can also have a special hydrogel that simultaneously seals the insertion hole, according to a statement from the Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation (TIBI) in California, USA, one of the entities participating in the study.
Currently, the drugs are injected into the eye by means of a so-called ‘intravitreal injection’. It is used to treat a number of diseases, including age-related macular degeneration and diabetic eye disease.
In many cases, multiple injections are needed, which poses an increased risk of bacterial infection at the needle extraction site. This procedure also includes a risk of floating tumor cells in diseased eyes escaping through the puncture holes and migrating to other sites.
The recent tool aims to avoid such complications.
“This new improvement in drug delivery treatment can avoid the problems associated with the use of needles to treat serious eye diseases,” commented TIBI director Ali Khademhosseini, who participated in the research along with other institutions, mostly from South Korea.
In addition, the ‘self-locking’ microneedle could be made in different lengths, so that the therapy can be precisely targeted and dispersed in retinal tissues or other areas within the eyeball, say the authors of the paper published in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials.
The scientists have successfully tested the technology in pigs and now plan to begin experiments in humans.