• Drug Delivery Via Microneedle Patch

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    A team of biomedical engineers has demonstrated the effectiveness of an eye-contact patch equipped with double-layered microneedles for both rapid and controlled drug delivery di­rectly into the eye.1 The patch, intended to overcome the limitations of systemic, topical, and intraocular injection, is as easy to apply as a disposable contact lens. While not yet tested in human eyes, it promises a paradigm shift for long-term treatment, allowing patients to manage their ocular disorders at home.

    “Our work provides a new strategy for efficient drug delivery into the eye, with the help of dissolvable tiny mi­croneedles,” said Peng Chen, PhD, at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

    Building on earlier success. Dr. Chen and his colleagues recently devel­oped microneedle-based skin patches to manage obesity.2 Their ease of use and effectiveness in transdermal drug release “inspired us to further explore microneedle applications in eye disease treatment,” he said. The researchers tested the eye patch in mice with corneal neovascularization, but it has applications for other ocular diseases, he said.

    A one-two punch. The patch consists of multiple pyramid-shaped microdrug reservoirs attached to a polymeric con­tact lens–like substrate. The microneedle tips are thinner than a human hair and a fraction the length of a grain of rice.

    Using corneal neovascularization as the disease model, the researchers applied the patch to mouse corneas for a quick burst of an anti-inflammatory compound, followed by sustained re­lease of an antiangiogenic monoclonal antibody. The biphasic release achieved an approximately 90% reduction of neovascular areas with a single 1-gram dose. The result far surpassed human clinical studies that have shown the need for repeated high-dosage topi­cal drugs to treat corneal neovascular disease.3,4

    Looking ahead. Dr. Chen hopes to find clinical collaborators to launch a clinical trial. In the meantime, he said, “We are continuing to work on opti­mizing the eye patch for better practical use in human eyes.”

    —Miriam Karmel


    1 Than A et al. Nat Comm. 2018;9(1):4433.

    2 Than A et al. Small Methods. 2017;11(1):1700269.

    3 Ferrari G et al. Cornea. 2013;32(7):992-997.

    4 Bock F et al. Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2008;246(2):281-284.


    Relevant financial disclosures—Dr. Chen: Singapore A*STAR Biomedical Research Council: S; Singapore National Research Foundation: S; Singapore Ministry of Education: S; Singapore Ministry of Health: S.

    For full disclosures and the disclosure key, see below.

    Full Financial Disclosures

    Dr. Chen Singapore A*STAR Biomedical Research Council: S; Singapore National Research Foundation: S; Singapore Ministry of Education: S; Singapore Ministry of Health: S.

    Dr. Duncan NEI: S.

    Dr. Eslani None.

    Dr. Tam None.

    Disclosure Category



    Consultant/Advisor C Consultant fee, paid advisory boards, or fees for attending a meeting.
    Employee E Employed by a commercial company.
    Speakers bureau L Lecture fees or honoraria, travel fees or reimbursements when speaking at the invitation of a commercial company.
    Equity owner O Equity ownership/stock options in publicly or privately traded firms, excluding mutual funds.
    Patents/Royalty P Patents and/or royalties for intellectual property.
    Grant support S Grant support or other financial support to the investigator from all sources, including research support from government agencies (e.g., NIH), foundations, device manufacturers, and/or pharmaceutical companies.


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