By Adrian Galbreth
People with glaucoma could be set to benefit from more effective treatment, after scientists developed an innovative way to combat post-surgical scarring for patients with the common eye disease.
Specialists at the Singapore Eye Research Institute and Nanyang Technological University have carried out clinical trial showing that the use of a new drug delivery method results in 40 per cent fewer injections needed by glaucoma patients to prevent scarring after surgery.
According to the experts, it could also mean fewer hospital visits for these patients in the future.
The study was led by associate professor Tina Wong, senior consultant with SNEC's Glaucoma Service and head of the Ocular Therapeutics and Drug Delivery Research Group at SERI.
She explained that the post-operative scarring response is the major obstacle for successful glaucoma surgery.
"We've seen in our clinics that Asian patients scar earlier and more aggressively than their Caucasian counterparts, and a significant number require at least one post-operative intervention to treat this scarring response."
According to the expert, the innovative new treatment method has been made possible by Professor Subbu Venkatraman, acting chair of NTU's School of Materials Science and Engineering, who invented a way to make the drug, which prevents post-surgical scarring, last longer at the site of the injection.
This considerably increases the interval before the drug has to be administered again, the specialists explained.
Through the use of a gel known as hyaluronic acid, Professor Venkatraman discovered a way to contain the drug 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) inside the gel.
"We have found a way to deliver the drug 5-Fluorouracil gradually into the patient. This allows the drug to be time-released over several days, compared to the current effect of the drug which remains at the injected site for only a few hours," he stated.
The benefit for patients who have undergone glaucoma surgery is that fewer injections of the drug are needed, which results in less post-surgical scarring and fewer visits to the hospital, the expert concluded.
by Adrian Galbreth