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Australian tech could end glaucoma eye drops

05/09/2018By Matthew Woodley
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.

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“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).

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