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    Inkjet Drug Printing Onto Contact Lenses

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    Researchers from the UCL School of Pharmacy in London have come up with a novel method of drug delivery: using an adapted commercial inkjet printer to place drugs onto contact lenses.1 The hope is that such an approach will circumvent problems commonly seen with eyedrops, such as poor patient compliance.

    Study focus and design. Study coauthors Thomas D. Pollard, MSc, and Abdul W. Basit, PhD, said they focused on three areas in their study: reliability of drug deposition, level of light transmission through drug-printed lenses, and amount of drug release from the lenses.

    The researchers used timolol maleate for this study. An inkjet printer with custom drug-loaded cartridges deposited droplets of timolol on the lens in a circular pattern designed to avoid the pupil area of the contact lens. Two printing patterns were evaluated, with the drug printed on the inside or outside lens face.

    The lenses were tested with near-infrared spectrometry, as a nondestructive way of evaluating drug load levels and target dosing amounts. The researchers also used a spectrophotometer to analyze light transmission through the lens as well as a flow rig that mimicked the environment of the eye to observe drug release profiles for the lenses.

    More reliable than eyedrops? The researchers found that inkjet drug printing provided significantly more reliable drug loading than eyedrops. While some variation occurred, lenses displayed a tighter range of drug load than did drops. Light transmission of the lens remained unchanged by the drug deposits, suggesting no alterations in vision for the user.

    Drug release from the lens provided the most intriguing results, said Prof. Basit. “The contact lens slows down drug release, leading to much longer retention times.” Testing results indicated that drug release was not instantaneous—and that dilution appears to begin at the three-hour mark. “This should translate to inkjet printing on contact lenses being a more effective therapy than eyedrops,” Prof. Basit said.

    Potential variations. Printing on the inside versus the outside of the lens face led to variations in drug release profiles, with a slower release of timolol observed when it was printed on the inside face. This might open up avenues to modify drug release behavior—and even to personalize ocular therapy, Prof. Basit said.

    Mr. Pollard further noted that this technology could potentially allow printing of multiple drugs at once for multidrug therapies. “The opportunities are vast,” he said.

    —Patricia Weiser, PharmD


    1 Pollard TD et al. Int J Pharm X. 2022;5:100150.


    Relevant financial disclosures: Prof. Basit and Mr. Pollard—Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council: S.

    For full disclosures and the disclosure key, see below.

    Full Financial Disclosures

    Dr. Basit Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council: S.

    Dr. Bharti None.

    Dr. Challa Aerie: P; NIH: S.

    Mr. Pollard Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council: S.

    Dr. Stan Argenx: C; Horizon Therapeutics: C; Immunovant: C; Or­thoDiagnostics: C; OSE Immunotherapeutics: C; Roivant: C; Septerna: C; Sling Therapeutics: C; Third Rock Ven­tures: C; Tourmaline: C.

    Dr. Tao None.

    Disclosure Category



    Consultant/Advisor C Consultant fee, paid advisory boards, or fees for attending a meeting.
    Employee E Hired to work for compensation or received a W2 from a company.
    Employee, executive role EE Hired to work in an executive role for compensation or received a W2 from a company.
    Owner of company EO Ownership or controlling interest in a company, other than stock.
    Independent contractor I Contracted work, including contracted research.
    Lecture fees/Speakers bureau L Lecture fees or honoraria, travel fees or reimbursements when speaking at the invitation of a commercial company.
    Patents/Royalty P Beneficiary of patents and/or royalties for intellectual property.
    Equity/Stock/Stock options holder, private corporation PS Equity ownership, stock and/or stock options in privately owned firms, excluding mutual funds.
    Grant support S Grant support or other financial support from all sources, including research support from government agencies (e.g., NIH), foundations, device manufacturers, and\or pharmaceutical companies. Research funding should be disclosed by the principal or named investigator even if your institution receives the grant and manages the funds.
    Stock options, public or private corporation SO Stock options in a public or private company.
    Equity/Stock holder, public corporation US Equity ownership or stock in publicly traded firms, excluding mutual funds (listed on the stock exchange).


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