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Probiotic-based Ophtalmologic treatment for Bacterial and Allergic Conjunctivitis

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Probiotics for eye care

Red, itchy and painful, conjunctivitis or pink eye can be hard to get rid of. EU researchers have evaluated the market feasibility of probiotics developed specially for eye care.

Fundamental Research

Conjunctivitis is a major health issue affecting more than 1 100 million people worldwide. Inflammation of the tissue that lines the eyelid, it can be caused by virus or bacterial infection or allergies. Currently, treatment for bacterial and allergic conjunctivitis is with antibiotic eye drops and ointments. These can instigate changes in the once healthy eye microbiota and contribute to increase in the resistance of pathogenic strains. Other treatments such as anti-inflammatory and antihistaminic drugs have also undesirable side effects, such as rise in intraocular pressure or corneal complications. As an alternative to the usual squandering of antibiotics, AB BIOTICS SA has developed an innovative solution based on the use of probiotics. The effects of the selected probiotic strains have been validated through functional in vitro and in vivo tests and their safety for ocular application has also been assessed in toxicity trials in animal models. The strains enable a fast and stable reestablishment of healthy eye microbiota, provide faster anti-inflammatory and anti-histaminic effects and are antagonistic to pathogens with no resistance risks, avoiding antibiotic use. Probiotics for the eye microbiome The primary objective of the EU-funded PROBIOTEARS project was to evaluate the market feasibility of extending the application of microbiome modulation technologies in ophthalmology and eye care. During the marketing study, the PROBIOTEARS team interviewed major stakeholders and gathered opinions on the use of probiotics in the field of eye care. The researchers also used the information to draft the key lines for the next steps in the development of the project. “We regarded this as an initial step in a bigger endeavour,” outlines project coordinator Dr Jordi Espadaler. “We wanted to gauge if the eye-care market – practitioners, pharmacists and patients – would accept such a concept. Moreover, we needed to know what the stakeholders would require from this technology to be medically and commercially attractive.” ‘Short-sightedness’ in the field of ophthalmology Investigation into bacterial populations in the conjunctiva and their role in the homeostasis and health of eye tissues is a relatively recent research area. “The main issue was to identify practitioners with knowledge of the field of microbiology and the role of microbiota in their area (ophthalmology),” says Dr Espadaler. PROBIOTEARS solved this problem through training sessions for ophthalmologists with microbiologists. The success of the initiative is reflected in the generation of higher interest in the field amongst the key opinion leaders enrolled. Vision of the future for probiotics in eye healthcare The project team are currently finalising the strategy of market access and the formulation of the first finished product. “Once we have sufficient preliminary stability data, we would like to conduct a pilot open-label, mechanistic study with the finished formula of the product, before conducting a larger randomised controlled trial,” explains Dr Espadaler. The next step envisioned is to decide on the best marketing approach in parallel to conducting clinical trials. Dr Espadaler sums up his vision for the use of probiotics in general eye health as well as treatment of diseases such as conjunctivitis. “We don’t see this project as a one-product development but as a starting point for a broader application of microbiota modulation in eye care.”


PROBIOTEARS, eye, probiotics, conjunctivitis, microbiome

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