Singapore team developing injectable glaucoma treatment, says noncompliance plagues eye drops

A team of scientists from Singapore's Nanyang Technological University and the Singapore Eye Research Institute is developing an injectable eye medication that utilizes extended-release nanoparticles to treat glaucoma, or fluid buildup in the eye that can lead to blindness.

Six patients were tested on the medication in 2013. The team says that after more than four years of development in Asia, the drug delivery technology is ready for U.S. clinical trials, and hopes to achieve commercialization in two and a half years, according to Malaysia's Borneo Post.

"Nanomedicine is currently being used to treat cancer. The challenge in applying it was to take an existing drug, put it into a nano carrier and control its release over a long period. For glaucoma, the drug had to act for at least three months. We believe this has not been done before," said the chair of NTU's School of Material Science and Engineering, Professor Subbu Venkatraman, in the Borneo Post.

Patient administration and compliance is a problem with conventional eye drops. A study in the Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology concluded that more than half of glaucoma patients demonstrated either improper technique or noncompliance with dosage instructions. In addition, the Borneo Post cites a study finding that less than a quarter of patients at the Singapore Eye Institute came back for more eye drops after a year.

"We doctors are prescribing medicine in good faith, but there's still a problem with our patients' ability to comply with what's given," said Professor Tina Wong of the Eye Research Institute in the article. "Ideally, we want something that will take away the responsibility from them. With sustained drug delivery through nanomedicine such as ours, we can ensure that the medicine is working round the clock. We get a more targeted release of the drug without the side effects of eye drops, and we will be able to manage the disease more effectively."

- read the article in the Borneo Post