Division of Bioengineering

Light4Sight - Light-activated carriers for the controlled delivery of therapeutic peptides in posterior segment eye diseases

Principal investigator: Helena AZEVEDO
Co-investigator(s): Yaqi LYU
Funding source(s): EU Commission - Horizon 2020
 Start: 01-11-2019  /  End: 31-10-2021
 Amount: £179,947
Directly incurred staff: Yaqi Lyu
SEMS division:
The growth of the ophthalmic drug market is primarily driven by an increasing aged population suffering from age- and lifestyle-related diseases such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, among others. These diseases cause moderate or complete vision loss, resulting in significant reduction in quality of life. Consequently, innovative approaches for the effective delivery of biopharmaceuticals for the treatment of chronic intraocular diseases are required. Currently, intravitreal injection of drugs is the most acceptable and effective method to treat vitreoretinal diseases. By placing the drug in the posterior eye, it evades the ocular barriers common in topical and systemic delivery, allowing higher drug doses to reach the target site. However, treatments require frequent injections to maintain adequate intraocular concentration, which are invasive, increase the risk of adverse effects and pose significant treatment burden on patients and healthcare providers. Thus, alternative ways to deliver these drugs that require less frequent administration need to be developed. Light4Sight aims to develop a novel delivery platform consisting of self-assembling nanocarriers incorporating therapeutic peptides and suspended within a light-sensitive supramolecular hydrogel. The hydrogel can be injected in the vitreous and release of nanocarriers be activated through the irradiation of visible light. This approach provides several benefits: 1) minimizes the use of repeated injections reducing treatment burden; 2) reduces burst release of the nanocarriers avoiding potential dose related toxicity; 3) on-demand release to match patient needs; 4) allows high drug loading for longterm therapy; 5) protects peptide drugs from rapid clearance in the vitreous increasing their half-life.