Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness worldwide. It is estimated that in 2010, 60.5 million people worldwide had some form of glaucoma and this figure will reach 79.6 million by 2020. Glaucoma is a group of ophthalmic diseases that lead to progressive damage of the optical nerve responsible for the transfer of information in the brain. Without some kind of intervention, most types of glaucoma are deteriorating.
If it is not treated immediately, the vision loss is irreversible and this has led to glaucoma being addressed as the "thief of vision". With the appropriate treatment, glaucoma can be cured. The reduction of intraocular pressure (IOP) is associated with slowing down to a great extent the risk of the disease progression. The thickness and the mechanical properties of the cornea are the main parameters influencing the IOP measurement.
Nowadays, the majority of people with glaucoma will have to use eye drops to tackle the problem. The biggest hurdle arising from their continued use is that many patients do not comply with their treatment. In attempting to address the above problem, various drug delivery systems have been developed that have limited the incidence, but have failed to overcome significant limitations such as the delivery of hydrophobic drugs and their high cost.
Therefore, it is necessary to develop new and innovative systems with the following advantages: i) flexible and stable systems for their suitable placement in the corneal area according to their thickness and size; (ii) ideal properties (optical, surface, mechanical and biological) of the controlled drug delivery system in the area where the problem occurs; (iii) suitable intraocular pressure sensor systems located at various points of the cornea, which according to the eye movement (during drug administration), they will record the IOP at regular intervals.
In this context, the collaboration of Emmetropia with the two research organisations (FORTH and TEIC) envisages the development of innovative devices known as "Alternative Smart Ocular Patches with Controlled Ophthalmic Pharmacokinetics" to improve the treatment of glaucoma. Their main features are the use of biocompatible materials (graphene oxide and biodegradable polymers) with the appropriate biological, electrical and mechanical properties; the appropriate glaucoma drugs; the investigation of the controlled pharmacokinetic mechanism based on the use of ultrafast lasers for micro-nano patterning of the ocular devices; and the inter-relation of the intraocular pressure and controlled drug release rate by the ocular patch.
The main objectives of the ocular patches are:
• The synthesis of biocompatible graphene nanostructures of graphene oxide and the binding of desirable drugs on them. • Micro-nano patterning of the ocular patch using ultrafast laser pulses.
• Development of a pilot-scale pressure sensor and its incorporation into the ocular patch. • Study of the functionality of the ophthalmic/ocular patch in the cornea of rabbits and the in vivo measurement of the intraocular pressure and the characterization of the controlled drug release mechanism from the ophthalmic/ocular patch.
• Enhanced collaboration between the company and the two research organizations through the contribution of the final product to the excellence and the competitiveness of the market for the treatment of glaucoma at a national and European / international level