Keep on Seeing with Diabetes

Diabetic retinopathy could be prevented with new drug delivery device

(RxWiki News) Diabetics face all sorts of challenges caused by their disease. One of those is the possibility of going blind. Now, researchers have found a way to protect diabetics from this problem.

Scientists from the University of British Columbia have made a tool that goes behind patients' eyes in order to deliver drugs that treat eye damage caused by diabetes.

"There may be a way to stop blindness in diabetics."

Eye damage caused by diabetes - or diabetic retinopathy - happens when certain cells in the retina grow too large. As this problem gets worse, it can eventually lead to blindness.

The treatments currently used for diabetic retinopathy can be risky. Laser therapy can cause laser burns or the loss of peripheral or night vision. Anti-cancer drugs are also used. However, patients need high doses of these drugs, which can hurt other parts of their body.

The scientists and engineers who made this new device wanted to find a safe and effective way to protect diabetic patients from going blind, says Mu Chiao, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of British Columbia.

The device - which is described in the current issue of Lab on a Chip - is implanted behind diabetic patients' eyes. The drug delivery from the device is controlled and on-demand using a magnetic field outside of a patient's body. In other words, doctors can control when and how much of a drug is delivered.

Chiao and colleagues tested the device using the drug Taxotere (docetaxel), an anti-cancer drug. They found that the structure of the device held up for more than 35 days with an insignificant amount of drug leakage.

They found that the device's rate of drug delivery was reliable.

According to Fatemeh Nazly Pirmoradi, Ph.D., one of the study's authors, the Taxotere also kept working as its supposed to after two months inside of the device.

It will likely take a few more years before the device is ready for diabetes patients to use. There's a lot more work to be done, Pirmoradi says.

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Review Date: 
June 30, 2011