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Researchers trial world’s first needleless eye injection

Frequent injections into the eye could be a thing of the past for patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) with the development of the world’s first needleless eye injection.image-tools

The device, to be trialled by CERA researchers, works by incorporating a measured dose of drug into a gel that is placed over the eye. A device attached to the gel sends out an ultrasonic pulse which propels the drug from the gel into the eye.

Of the two common forms of AMD, wet AMD is the more serious of the two and is often characterised by rapid vision loss.

The disease is treated by injecting the eye with anti vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) drugs. While the treatment is effective in slowing or stopping the progression of AMD, injections must be administered regularly, are typically painful and require surgical administration.

Research Fellow Dr Paul Connell said the benefits of the device would be that it’s painless, easy to use and, one day, could be administered by patients themselves.

“The device uses an innovative combination of nanotechnology and ultrasound to deliver a non-invasive and painless dose of medication that can specifically target the retina at the back of the eye,” Dr Connell said.

“It has the potential to become a non-invasive alternative to injections into the eye and could eventually eradicate the need for some surgical interventions.”

Scientists are currently conducting trials to assess the safety and efficacy of the device.

“In 2012 we aim to conduct a safety study in a small number of AMD patients. If successful, we hope to expand the trials and modify the technology to treat other retinal diseases,” Dr Connell said.

SonoEyeTM device inventors, Seagull Technology Pty Ltd, will work in partnership with CERA to further develop the technology. Continued development is supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council Development Grant.