Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary
Researchers at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary are developing a drug-eluting contact lens. The group has extensive preclinical results and is moving toward commercialization.
“Contact lenses are familiar and can be inserted by patients or by friends and family,” said Joseph B. Ciolino, MD, assistant professor of ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School.
Clinical applications for contact lenses are nothing new, Dr. Ciolino noted. Glaucoma surgeons and other ophthalmologists use contact lenses for post-op bandaging. While contact lenses have been tried as drug delivery devices, they have a significant drawback. Lens material readily absorbs drugs, but they release absorbed materials just as quickly.
“The trick is to control release of the drug from the lens,” Dr. Ciolino said. “We have created a thin polymer film around the periphery of a contact lens, much like the film on a cosmetic-colored contact lens. We modulate the film to control the drug release rate.”
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In animal tests, ciprofloxacin has been released at a controlled rate for up to 30 days. An antifungal lens showed a burst effect followed by sustained release that killed all fungi for 3 weeks. A dexamethasone lens showed 100 to 1,000 times the drug concentration in cornea, iris and ciliary body compared to hourly drops and several thousand times greater concentration in the retina.
Testing with glaucomatous monkeys showed better IOP reduction using latanoprost contact lenses compared to latanoprost drops.
“We have a technology that addresses the problem of compliance,” Dr. Ciolino said. “We have increased efficacy and efficiency and we can deliver drugs that can’t be delivered by drops.”