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Tiny Cup Attached to Eye Improves Drug Delivery For Retinal Diseases
Date:8/7/2009

this kind of device on any organ and the ability to deliver medication to the affected organ, could be a huge advance in how we currently treat cancer," Dr. Murphree said. This work is done in conjunction with Ricardo Carvalho, M.D., Ph.D. and the company 3T Ophthalmics which is developing the drug delivery system.

The episcleral drug reservoir is inserted under the thin, filmy conjunctiva, or covering of the eyeball, to the sclera -- the fibrous, protective outer layer of the eye. The tiny cup administers the drug slowly by passive diffusion through the sclera, where it reaches the retina and vitreous. The device is so small the patient should feel little or no discomfort and it does not hinder normal vision.

Currently, drugs for most retinal diseases are delivered either through an I.V. drip (i.e. systemically) or by an injection into the eyeball (i.e. intravitreal), both of which pose risks for the patient.

For example, chemotherapy for retinoblastoma, a cancer affecting one in 15,000 children, must now be given intravenously. This requires relatively large doses of the drug are needed to achieve a therapeutic concentration in the retina. The chemotherapy destroys the bone marrow and depresses the child's immune system, often leading to secondary infections.

Intravitreal injections using a syringe, often used to treat age-related macular degeneration, require frequent out-patient visits and can lead to vitreous hemorrhage and retinal detachment. Eye drops are also generally ineffective for retinal diseases because most medications are washed away or diluted before they have a chance to reach the retina, located at the back of the eye close to the brain.

"When we administer chemotherapy to an infant for retinoblastoma at The Vision Center, it is expensive and puts a great strain on the family, especially if they are from another state. Our preliminary research shows that
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SOURCE Children's Hospital Los Angeles
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