Scientists prepare to trial new nano-drug for eye diseases 

Professor Di Yu of the UQ Diamantina Institute collaborated with scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Beijing Chaoyang Hospital to address age-related macular degeneration and retinal neovascularisation linked to diabetes, which affect approximately 450 million people worldwide. This has been published in Nature Biomedical Engineering. 

Currently, treatments for these diseases are delivered via an injection in the eyeball. However, Professor Yu and his collaborators are pioneering a more complex nano-drug, which not only delivers an antibody, but simultaneously combats inflammation and identified side effects. 

Professor Yu said: “The new design allows the nano-drug to concentrate on lesions and deliver lasting benefits. With the impressive results, further developments are now underway to translate it into a new therapy. This new approach will hopefully benefit a large number of patients with age-related macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy by improving eyesight and preventing blindness.” 

There is a high prevalence of ocular neovascular disease, with 415 million people at risk of loss of sight through diabetes, and as many as 50 million with age-related macular degeneration. With an aging population, the number of cases of age-related macular degeneration is expected to increase as much as five-fold by 2040. 

“At the moment, ocular neovascular diseases are treated by a method that suppresses a particular growth factor for vessels, but between 40 and 60 per cent of patients do not respond well,” said Professor Yu. “Those who do not respond well might exude fluids, have unresolved or new bleeding, thickening or scarring of tissue, or fail to recover functional vision. In our study of a novel treatment in animals, volumes of lesions were reduced by 95%”. 

Image credit: Amanda Dalbjörn 

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