Macular Degeneration: nanotech drug treatment could replace eyeball injections

Melbourne, Australia, researchers have developed a miniature drug-delivery system that could save people with macular degeneration the 10 injections a year – directly into the eye – that serve as the standard treatment in staving off blindness.

The injections, apart from being a psychological torment, require 24-hour recovery period and increasingly leave the patient at risk of infection, scarring and retinal damage.

Scientists at the Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science have come up with a miniature sponge-like device that delivers multiple doses directly into the macula, the region of the eye responsible for fine vision that allows you to read, drive and recognise faces.

Nano Sponge

Professor Ben Boyd, from the ARC Centre for Bio-Nano Science and the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, says it’s thought the device could be loaded with 10 doses of medication, and therefore would only need to be injected once a year.

The tiny sponge is covered in nano-sized light-sensitive pores (one-millionth the thickness of a human hair) that open and close when exposed to infra-red light pulses. Professor Boyd says this means that an ophthalmologist will be able to trigger the medication every six weeks using the same kind of laser deployed in other eye procedures.
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