Towards a new treatment for optic neuropathies

Francisco Fernández


    Francisco Fernández


    Centro Interdisciplinar de Química e Bioloxía de la Universidade da Coruña (CICA), Spain


    Optic neuropathies are a major health and social burden. For example, glaucoma – a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve – is responsible for 12.3 % of blindness worldwide and it is estimated that its prevalence will increase to affect more than 110 million people by 2040. Other neuropathies, such as diabetic macular oedema, are a common cause of vision loss, which around 285 million people suffered from in 2020.

    The most common treatment for this type of neuropathy is the administration of drugs via intraocular injections, which cause distress and inconvenience to the patient, carry a risk of complications and place a high burden on the public health system. Another type of treatment is eye drops, which are easy to administer topically. However, they are not very effective because the penetration of the drugs through the cornea is very limited.

    This project supports a group of researchers who have developed a new nanomaterial, a helical polymer (HeIP) that is used as an adjuvant to deliver drugs via the cornea and enables the development of a new generation of treatment methods for optic neuropathies. Previous studies have already shown that these HeIPs can effectively pass through the cornea, delivering bioactive nanodrugs to the cells to be treated. In this project, the researchers will go a step further and demonstrate the in vivo efficacy of these new HeIP nanomaterials.