tissue created from stem cells

Tissue created from stem cells used to improve vision successfully

Researchers have claimed a breakthrough following the successful use of stem cells to repair eye tissue and improve vision among patients with limbal stem cell deficiency. As part of the project, organ donor stem cells were used to create tissue, which was then transplanted to patients as part of a randomised clinical trial.

Led by the University of Edinburgh and the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service, researchers began by isolating stem cells from the corneas of people who donated their eyes after death. The stem cells were then grown into tissue, which was then transplanted to eight people of a 16-person group. Both groups were given eye drops and medication to suppress their immune system.

Over the course of 18 months, patients who received the stem cell implants showed signs of significant repair of the ocular surface, which was not seen among the control patients. Both groups showed improved vision, which researchers say warrants further investigation.

“The findings from this small study are very promising and show the potential for safe stem cell eye surgery as well as improvements in eye repair.”Baljean Dhillon, The University Of Edinburgh

Researchers on the project have claimed that this is a landmark study, and paves the way for further donor trials to be planned. Researchers also claimed this is also the first time that stem cells have been used this way in a randomised, clinical trial.

“The findings from this small study are very promising and show the potential for safe stem cell eye surgery as well as improvements in eye repair,” Professor Baljean Dhillon, Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, at The University of Edinburgh, said.

The next step for researchers will be to further examine how stem cells could promote tissue repair for other ocular conditions.

The research was published in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine, and was funded by UK Stem Cell Foundation, Scottish Enterprise and the Chief Scientist Office, part of Scottish Government Health Directorates.

Article appeared on INSIGHT

20/02/2019

laser eye surgery

Am I a Candidate for Refractive or Laser Eye Surgery?

Refractive or laser eye surgery is not right for everyone. The qualifications of a good candidate for refractive or laser eye surgery generally include:

  • At least 18 years of age
  • Stable eyeglass and contact lens prescription for at least 2 to 3 years
  • Stable vision over at least the past year
  • No history or findings of active corneal disease
  • No significant medical or eye problems, such as previous corneal ulcers, keratoconus (a progressive thinning of the cornea), diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, or glaucoma
  • Not pregnant or nursing
  • Eyeglass prescription within certain limits set by your eye surgeon

A good candidate is also one who, despite expecting improved vision, will still be OK with the idea of having to wear glasses under certain situations, such as when driving at night.

Article appeared on WebMD

colour changing CL

Colour changing CL to aid drug delivery into eye

Chinese scientists have engineered drug-delivering contact lenses that change colour to report exactly how much medicine has been released to the eye.

The research was conducted by a team from China Pharmaceutical University and the State Key Laboratory of Bioelectronics at Southeast University. They believe their work will help eye doctors accurately treat eye diseases with drugs.

Due to improved drug residence time and bioavailability, contact lenses have emerged as a potential alternative to delivering drugs directly to the eye. However, monitoring drug release in real time has been a challenge for ophthalmologists.

The major drawbacks of eye drops have been well-documented in previous studies, including the fact that often fewer than 5% of drugs end up being absorbed via this method. Much of it also ends up in the bloodstream instead of the eye, causing side effects.

However, the six-strong Chinese research group believes it may have at least partly overcome these issues by engineering a fabricated contact lens for sustained release of the drug timolol – used to treat increased eye pressure in ocular hypertension and glaucoma.

The colour-sensitive contact lens uses molecular imprinting, a technique that creates molecular cavities in a polymer structure that match the size and shape of a specific compound, such as a medicine, according to Sci-News.

In lab experiments, the molecularly imprinted contact lenses were loaded with timolol, before the scientists exposed the lenses to a solution of artificial tears, which was used as a stand-in for the eye.

As the drug was released from the contact lenses, the architecture of the molecules near the drug changed, which also changed the colour in the iris area of the lenses. No dye was involved in the process, reducing possible side effects.

The researchers could see this shift with the naked eye and with a fibre optic spectrometer.

“The fascinating contact lens can be further used for controlling release of a large number of ophthalmic drugs and has high potential to be a new generation of functional contact lenses,” the researchers concluded.

Article appeared on INSIGHT
03/12/2018

AMD

Mediterranean Diet Prevents AMD

Evidence is mounting that a poor diet plays an important role in the development of agerelated macular degeneration (AMD). A large collaboration of researchers from the European Union investigating the connection between genes and lifestyle on the development of AMD have found that people who adhered to a Mediterranean diet cut their risk of late-stage AMD by 41 per cent. This research expands on previous studies and suggests that such a diet is beneficial for everyone, whether you already have the disease or are at risk of developing it.

A Mediterranean diet emphasises eating less meat and more fish, vegetables, fruits, legumes, unrefined grains, and olive oil. Previous research has linked it to a longer lifespan and a reduced incidence of heart disease and cognitive decline. But only a few studies have evaluated its impact on AMD. Some studies showed it could help with certain types of AMD, or only at different stages of the disease.

I believe this is a public health issue on the same scale as smoking

When this earlier research on AMD was combined with the latest data, researchers said a clear picture emerged: diet has the potential to prevent a blinding disease.

AMD is a degenerative eye disease that causes loss of central vision. Around one in seven Australians – or 1.29 million people – over the age of 50 years has some evidence of this disease.

For this latest study, researchers analysed food frequency questionnaires from nearly 5,000 people who participated in two previous investigations – the Rotterdam Study, which evaluated disease risk in people age 55 and older, and the Alienor Study, which assessed the association between eye diseases and nutritional factors in people aged 73 and older.

Patients in the Rotterdam study were examined and completed food questionnaires every five years over a 21 year period, while patients in the Alienor Study were seen every two years over four years. The researchers found that those who closely followed the diet were 41 per cent less likely to develop AMD compared with those who did not follow the diet.

They also found that none of the individual components of a Mediterranean diet on their own – fish, fruit, vegetables, etc. – lowered the risk of AMD. Rather, it was the entire pattern of eating a nutrient-rich diet that significantly reduced the risk of late AMD.

“You are what you eat,” said Dr. Emily Chew, a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, who serves on an advisory board to the research group conducting the study. “I believe this is a public health issue on the same scale as smoking. Chronic diseases such as AMD, dementia, obesity, and diabetes, all have roots in poor dietary habits. It’s time to take quitting a poor diet as seriously as quitting smoking.”

The new research was published online in Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Article appeared on mivision

31st October 2018

Australian tech could end need for daily eye drops

Australian tech could end need for daily eye drops

A clinical-stage Australian biotechnology company, PolyActiva, has recruited patients into its Phase I clinical trial for a new ocular implant that could improve the daily lives of millions of glaucoma patients.

PolyActiva has used its proprietary polymer prodrug technology to develop ocular implants that, when placed in the eye, provide sustained treatment over a six-month period, compared to current glaucoma treatment where patients often need to administer eye drops daily. The revolutionary technology could in the future mean millions of people with open-angle glaucoma no longer need to use daily eye drops.

The potential of removing the reliance on the patient to remember to use eye drops, and the associated difficulty in administering them from the paradigm of glaucoma treatment, is being heralded as major potential health breakthrough by ophthalmologists. Several studies have demonstrated that up to 46 percent of patients have been found not to remember to use their drops or administer them poorly1. Failure to adhere to treatment can lead to faster progression of glaucoma, one of the most common causes of blindness.

“This product is designed to make the lives of glaucoma sufferers easier by removing the need for daily drop administration and thus improving treatment management,” says PolyActiva CEO Dr Russell Tait. “The implant is designed to deliver treatment for six months after which it will disappear without further intervention. We’re excited about starting our first clinical study and look forward to seeing how our lead candidate performs.”

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of irreversible blindness globally, affecting 300,000 Australians and is expected to affect approximately 80 million people worldwide by 2020. Increased intraocular pressure (IOP) in the major risk factor for the optic nerve damage that results in blindness. Treatment is designed to reduce IOP. Eye drop therapy is the mainstay of glaucoma treatment however there are two main deficiencies associated with drop therapy – poor patient adherence resulting from the need to administer drops daily and local side-effects resulting from the topical administration of the drug to the eye. Alternative methods of delivering drugs to the eye are required to increase patient adherence to treatment.

PolyActiva’s first clinical candidate is designed to provide a constant daily therapeutic dose of latanoprost free acid for at least 26 weeks, which is the active ingredient of a commonly prescribed glaucoma eye-drop (Xalatan®).

The clinical trial will assess the safety and tolerance of the implant when administered to glaucoma patients. The implant is also designed to biodegrade within 90 days after the treatment period and is capable of being administered in an ophthalmologist’s office under a slit-lamp using a custom-designed administration device.

One of the lead investigators, renowned ophthalmologist and cataract surgeon, Dr Nathan Kerr says, “PolyActiva’s treatment approach offers significant potential benefits for patients, addressing adherence and improving treatment of this disease. The bespoke administration device is simple to use and intuitive to operate.”

The Phase I clinical trial is being conducted under the Therapeutic Goods Administration Clinical Trial Notification (CTN) scheme at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, through the Centre of Eye Research Australia (CERA). The Phase I clinical trial will see seven glaucoma patients enrolled to evaluate the safety and tolerability of its PA5108 ocular implant, with initial results expected in Q1 2019.

 

1 Laura E. Dreer, Christopher Girkin and Steven L. Mansberger. Determinants of Medication Adherence to Topical Glaucoma Therapy. J Glaucoma. 2012 Apr; 21(4): 234–240.

 

Article appeared on Glaucoma Australia 

glaucoma

Aussie Tech Could End Glaucoma Eye Drops

Australian tech could end glaucoma eye drops

A clinical-stage Australian biotechnology company has begun recruiting glaucoma patients for a trial of a new implant that could end the need for daily eye drops.

PolyActiva has developed ocular implants that, when placed in the eye, provide sustained treatment over a six-month period, potentially removing the need for patients to manage their own treatment. Such a move could improve glaucoma outcomes, as several studies have demonstrated that up to 46% of patients don’t remember to use their drops or administer them poorly.

PolyActiva CEO Dr Russell Tait told Insight the technology had originally been developed for a different purpose, but its ability to carry a large amount of drugs in a small area and achieve zero order release, while maintaining separate control over the implant’s biodegradation made it ideal for delivering drugs to the eye.

“The implant is designed to deliver treatment for six months after which it will disappear without further intervention.”
Russell Tait, PolyActiva

“This product is designed to make the lives of glaucoma sufferers easier by removing the need for daily drop administration and thus improving treatment management,” Tait said.

“The implant is designed to deliver treatment for six months after which it will disappear without further intervention. We’re excited about starting our first clinical study and look forward to seeing how our lead candidate performs.”

According to Tait, the implant is capable of being administered in an ophthalmologist’s office under a slit-lamp using a custom-designed administration device.

“The implant itself is tiny – it’s about .2 mm in diameter and up to 4 mm in length, depending on the strength of the relevant product,” he explained.

“It sits in the lumen of a 27 gauge needle and it’s administered by clear corneal injection with a custom-built administration. For the glaucoma product it sits in the inferior angle of the interior chamber.”

The clinical trial will assess the safety and tolerance of the implant when administered to glaucoma patients and should be completed by the middle of 2019, with a view to eventually bringing the technology to market in around six years. Trials will initially be restricted to Australia, however as they progress Tait said the company would look to engage centres in the US as well.

“The major investors, MRCF [Medical Research Commercialisation Fund] and Yuuwa Capital, see this technology having a major potential impact on the lives of millions of glaucoma patients globally,” Dr Chris Nave, chairman of PolyActiva and CEO of the MRCF said.

“This innovative drug delivery technology has further potential applications, such as being used to administer other types of medication, including antibiotics and steroids for cataract surgery patients.”

PolyActiva’s first clinical candidate is designed to provide a constant daily therapeutic dose of latanoprost free acid for at least 26 weeks. Latanoprost is the active ingredient of a commonly prescribed glaucoma eye-drop treatment (Xalatan).

The Phase I clinical trial is being conducted under the Therapeutic Goods Administration Clinical Trial Notification (CTN) scheme at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in Melbourne, through the Centre of Eye Research Australia (CERA).

Article appeared on Insight

05/09/2018 • By Matthew Woodley

contact lens

A Warning for Contact Lens Wearers

Warning for contact lens wearers as infection increases

Blinding Acanthamoeba keratitis infections are on the rise, according to a new study led by UNSW’s Dr Nicole Carnt.

The research, which was conducted at Moorfields Eye Hospital in the UK while Carnt was on an NHMRC CJ Martin Biomedical Early Career Fellowship, found a threefold increase in Acanthamoebakeratitis infections in Southeast England since 2011. However, while the study is based on data from the UK, Carnt said its findings were equally important in Australia.

“It is absolutely imperative that regulators and those working in the optical sector take the findings seriously, and use the recommendations to take immediate and urgent action on prevention,” Carnt said.

“Contact lenses are medical devices and should be supplied with warnings regarding safe use.”

“It is absolutely imperative that regulators and those working in the optical sector take the findings seriously.”
Nicole Carnt, UNSW

Carnt told Insight she has been working with the Cornea and Contact Lens Society Australia (CCLSA) to develop a website dedicated to healthy contact lens wear, along with other initiatives to raise awareness.

“We are trying to encourage optometrists to talk about water related risks, as often they tend to skip over it as in the too hard basket or the risk too low to enforce the message,” she said.

“Yes, contact lenses are a lifestyle option and we don’t want people to be restricted but we do want them to be aware of the risks and take precautions where needed. Our message is to choose healthy contact lens wear.”

While the infection is quite rare, usually affecting 2.5 in 100,000 contact lens users per year, one in four people affected will need a corneal transplant to treat the disease and restore vision.

A member of the Acanthamoeba Keratitis Patient Support Group in the UK led by Carnt, Ms Irenie Ekkeshis, says more needs to be done to prevent new cases.

“This research confirms what those of us affected by Acanthamoeba keratitis have suspected for some time: that incidences of this awful, life-changing infection are on the increase,” Ekkeshis said.

“There’s more that should be done to prevent people from losing their sight to Acanthamoeba keratitis.”

The microorganism responsible for the infection can often be found in bodies of water such as lakes, oceans and rivers, as well as domestic tap water, swimming pools, hot tubs, soil and air. As such, Carnt said contact lens wearers needed to be aware of the risks associated with use around water.

Acanthamoeba keratitis is a largely preventable disease. People who wear reusable contact lenses need to make sure they thoroughly wash and dry their hands before handling contact lenses, and avoid wearing them while swimming, face washing or bathing,” she said.

“Daily disposable lenses, which eliminate the need for contact lens cases or solutions, may be safer and we are currently analysing our data to establish the risk factors for these.”

The study was published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

Article appeared on Insight

26/09/2018 • By Matthew Woodley

 

eye drops

Researchers one step closer to developing eye drops to treat common sight loss condition

Researchers are one step closer to developing eye drops to treat common sight loss condition

Scientists at the University of Birmingham are one step closer to developing an eye drop that could revolutionise treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

AMD is the leading cause of blindness in the developed world. Its prevalence is increasing dramatically as the population ages and it is estimated that, by 2020, there will be about 200 million people worldwide with the condition. In the UK alone, there are over 500,000 people with late stage AMD.

AMD is currently treated by injections of sight-saving drugs into the eye which must be administered by medical professionals. Scientists led by biochemist Dr Felicity de Cogan, from the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Microbiology and Infection, have invented a method of delivering these otherwise-injected drug as eye drops.

Laboratory research, published last year in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science (IOVS), showed that these eye drops have a similar therapeutic effect as the injected drug in rats. Now the Birmingham scientists have taken their research one step further by investigating the effect of the eye drops in the larger eyes of rabbits and pigs, which are more similar to human eyes.

This latest study, also published in IOVS, demonstrates that the eye drops can deliver a therapeutically effective amount of the drugs to the retina of the larger mammalian eye.

The technology behind the eye drops is a cell-penetrating peptide that can deliver the drug to the retina (the back of the eye). The scientists’ pending patents for the eye drops are now owned by US-based company, Macregen Inc, and a team of Birmingham researchers is working with the company to develop a novel range of therapies for AMD and other eye diseases.

The combined team is now expediting proof of concept studies to confirm the validity of the therapeutic approach. Clinical trials will be imminent once these studies are completed, and could start as early as spring 2019.

Dr de Cogan said: “For several years, our team has focused on the challenge of delivering drugs to the back of the eye.

“From the outset, we realised that delivering drugs through eye drops would mean that patients can administer their treatment themselves, and this would be less costly, save time for patients and healthcare providers, and reduce the potential complications that can arise from injections.

“Now we have shown that the eye drops work in the larger mammalian eye, and we welcome the commercial investment and expertise from Macregen so we can deliver a structured research and development programme that should bring concrete benefits to people with AMD and eye diseases.”

Professor Robert Scott, Consultant Ophthalmologist and Honorary Professor of Ophthalmology at University of Birmingham, commented: “Cell-penetrating peptides will drive the next generation of treatment for people with AMD.

“They will be transformative for patients who currently have to organise their lives around monthly clinic visits for uncomfortable intraocular injections, who will in the future have the convenience of self-administering their medical treatment.”

Keith Roizman, Founder, Executive Chairman, and Chief Technology Officer of Macregen said: “Macregen and the company’s prospective strategic partners and licensees are expected to make significant investments in laboratory proof of concept studies, the subsequent research and development programmes and clinical trials.

“We will also pursue the necessary and required regulatory programmes to make these eye drops available to patients.”

 

Article appeared on ScienceDaily, July 19, 2018

University of Birmingham. “Researchers are one step closer to developing eye drops to treat common sight loss condition.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 July 2018.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180719142004.htm 

AI

Google AI May Reveal Health Risks Through Your Eyes

Google AI May Reveal Health Risks Through Your Eyes

You visit the ophthalmologist to get your vision checked, but sometimes an eye exam reveals much more. Researchers at Google say a new application of artificial intelligence shows whether a patient’s eyes point to high blood pressure or risk of a heart attack or stroke.

That the eyes can detect disease in other parts of the body is not new. Through a routine eye exam, doctors can detect diabetes, cancers and other illnesses.

Google’s AI technology has the potential to make detection of diseases faster and cheaper, possibly even providing tools that allow the public to screen themselves, according to a report in The Verge.

 

Additional information on “Assessing Cardiovascular Risk Factors with Computer Vision” is available at the Google Research Blog.

 

Written By: Ari Soglin
Feb. 20, 2018

Winter UV Eye Safety

The Hidden Risk for Skiers and Snowboarders

Most of us remember to wear eye protection and sunscreen in the summer, but we probably don’t think about it as much during the winter months, even though studies show that sun exposure — regardless of season — may increase the risk of developing cataracts, snow blindness and growths on the eye, including cancer.

Do you take the necessary precautions before you enjoy beautiful winter days? If you’re like most people, you probably don’t do so consistently.

In a recent study published in Archives of Dermatology, researchers took multiple readings of winter UV radiation at 32 high-altitude ski areas in western North America and interviewed thousands of skiers and snowboarders to find out whether they took precautions against the sun, such as wearing hats, sunscreen and goggles. The study found that most skiers and snowboarders took only occasional precautions against the sun.

However, sun reflecting off the snow can be very harsh. Exposure to UV radiation can even be high on cloudy days; in the northern hemisphere, the highest exposure is at midday. This extends through late winter and into early spring. Exposure also increases with elevation: the highest UV rating from the Archives of Dermatology study was taken at Mammoth Mountain in California.

Excessive exposure to UV light reflected off snow can damage the eyes’ front surface. In addition to cataracts, sun exposure can lead to lesions and tumors that may be cosmetically unappealing and require surgical removal. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that people be especially careful to protect their eyes in the winter months and only wear goggles or sunglasses with UV protection.

 

Article appeared in American Academy of Ophthalmology

Apr. 29, 2014