Research laboratory of Tejal Desai, PhD
Therapeutic Microtechnology and Nanotechnology Laboratory

Ocular Drug Delivery

Ocular diseases affect one of the most indispensable senses and cause significant impacts to quality of life, particularly in the elderly. The delicate structures of the eye require particular care when developing novel therapies. Topical eye drops and intraocular injections are two methods that have been employed for decades to deliver therapeutics to the eye. However, these two methods have well-recognized limitations in terms of patient compliance, discomfort, risk of infection, and inconvenience, as well as limited therapeutic bioavailability and the need for frequent repeated administration.

There is an urgent need in clinical ophthalmology for a syringe-deployable intraocular sustained drug delivery device that is highly efficacious for biologically derived therapeutics. A drug delivery device capable of sustained release of biological therapeutics over several months can maintain effective therapeutic concentrations and reduce the number of injections, significantly improving ocular therapies. One attractive platform for continuous delivery of antibody-based therapeutics is the use of nanoporous materials.

We are developing injectable nanoporous devices for long-term drug delivery to the eye. Current efforts are directed toward tuning our devices for constant drug release and timely degradation. We are also developing micropatterned scaffolds for tissue reconstruction of the retina.

cross-section of an eyeball

A drawing of a section through the human eye with a schematic enlargement of the retina.

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A polycaprolactone drug delivery device implanted into rabbit vitreous.

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Scanning electron microscope (SEM) cross-section of a nanoporous polycaprolactone film.

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Retinal progenitor cells attaching themselves to a well in a PCL membrane

In collaboration with Bob Bhisitkul, MD, PhD

Advancing the Treatment of Retinal Diseases Video