Filed for in 2007 and awarded in April 2011, the patent (US 7,918,814) was awarded to Henry F. Edelhauser, Emory Eye Center’s former director of research, along with Mark Prausnitz, professor of chemical and biomedical engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Ninghao Jiang, a research graduate student at Georgia Tech, now employed at CNA, a non-profit research organization in Virginia.
Because the microneedle apparatus is so much smaller than currently used intravitreal needles, there may be less discomfort for the patients. Many patients with age-related macular degeneration have injections on a regular basis. In the future, the same microneedle technology may be used to inject medication directly into the eye for many other ocular conditions, such as glaucoma, eliminating the need to put drops in the eyes every day—a real chore for some patients.
“The beauty of this hollow-tubed microneedle is that it can serve as a route for targeted drug delivery for retinal disease using an array of delivery suspensions such as microbeads and microbubbles,” says Edelhauser. “Moreover, a sustained delivery can be achieved with proper formulation design. In the future, this new process should be helpful in the treatment of several ocular diseases.”
“In the 1990s Dr. Edelhauser and I initially conceived of getting drugs from the outside of the eye, the sclera, to the back of the eye, the retinal space. What we have now found is that the suprachoroidal space, an area located between the sclera and the retina, offers opportunity to deliver medications very effectively to the retinal region,” says Timothy W. Olsen, MD, Emory Eye Center director. “The microneedle technology, developed by Edelhauser and Prausnitz, may prove to be the safest and most effective path to this important area of the eye.”
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