Nanoparticles carting steroids to retina delay macular degeneration

Researchers have developed a sustained-release drug delivery system that successfully brought steroids to the retina to treat degenerative eye conditions. Nanoparticles known as dendrimers gave the treatment a ride in.

Details of the study--developed by researchers from Wayne State University, the Mayo Clinic and The Wilmer Eye Institute of Johns Hopkins--are published in the journal Biomaterials. Scientists believe that the treatments could offer a targeted, sustained release drug treatment for both age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa. Both conditions are caused by neuroinflammation, can lead to blindness and have no cure, the researchers note. But the drug delivery system could delay the damage both conditions cause, they added, by relieving the neuroinflammation.

The team described their delivery system as a "clinically relevant, targeted, sustained-release" concept that uses "a simple nanodevice construct." They tested the system in rats with neuroinflammation leading to retinal degeneration. Researchers said that dendrimers worked well because activated microglia cells (in the nervous system) selectively "ate" the dendrimers and kept them for at least 30 days. This is crucial because the dendrimer proceeds with sustained release of the steroid. Consequently, the rats experienced a decrease in neuroinflammation, which helped protect their vision by keeping the photoreceptors in the retina from becoming injured.

The scientists are seeking patents for their technology and say they will continue their research.

- here's the release
- check out the Biomaterials abstract

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