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

Project description

Light-activated nanocarriers for drug release in the eye

Macular degeneration and glaucoma are age-related eye diseases which are expected to increase in prevalence due to the rise in the ageing population. Since these diseases impair vision and hence quality of life, there is a need for efficient administration of therapeutics. The key objective of the EU-funded Light4Sight project is to develop a nanotechnology-based drug delivery system that contains therapeutic peptides within a light-sensitive hydrogel. The hydrogel can be injected in the vitreous, the clear gel that fills the space between the lens and the retina. Drug release will be activated by visible light in a controlled manner, avoiding toxicity while increasing the half-life of the therapeutic.


In 2016, the global sales of biopharmaceutical drugs (protein, peptides) in ophthalmic applications exceeded $8 billion and is estimated to increase to $35.7 billion by 2025. 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 long-term therapy; 5) protects peptide drugs from rapid clearance in the vitreous increasing their half-life.


Net EU contribution
€ 224 933,76
E1 4NS London
United Kingdom

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London Inner London — East Tower Hamlets
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 224 933,76