The principal authors of the study, Raymond Iezzi, M.D. (Mayo Clinic ophthalmologist) and Doctor Rangaramanujam Kannan, Ph.D. (faculty of ophthalmology at The Wilmer Eye Institute of Johns Hopkins) have developed a clinically relevant, targeted, sustained-release drug delivery system using a simple nanodevice construct. The experimental work in rat models showed that one intravitreal administration of the nanodevice in microgram quantities could offer neuroprotection at least for a month.
Both dry age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa are caused by neuroinflammation, which progressively damages the retina and can lead to blindness. Macular degeneration is the primary cause of vision loss in older Americans, affecting more than 7 million people, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Retinitis pigmentosa encompasses many genetic conditions affecting the retina and impacts 1 in 4,000 Americans, the NIH estimates.
"There is no cure for these diseases, said Iezzi. "An effective treatment could offer hope to hundreds of millions of patients worldwide. We tested the dendrimer delivery system in rats that develop neuroinflammation leading to retinal degeneration. The target was activated microglial cells, the immune cells in charge of cleaning up dead and dying material in the eye. When activated, these cells cause damage via neuroinflammation — a hallmark of each disease."
"Dendrimers are tree-like, non-cytotoxic polymeric drug delivery vehicles (~ 4 nm). Surprisingly, the activated microglia in the degenerating retina appeared to eat the dendrimer selectively and retain them for at least a month. The drug is released from the dendrimer in a sustained fashion inside these cells, offering targeted neuroprotection to the retina," said Kannan.
The treatment reduced neuroinflammation in the rat model and protected vision by preventing injury to photoreceptors in the retina. Although the steroid offers only temporary protection, the treatment as a whole provides sustained relief from neuroinflammation, the study found.
COMPAMED.de; Source: Wayne State University