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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S021485/1
Title: Development of next-generation Intraocular lens combined with degradable drug delivery system toward prevention of Posterior Capsule Opacification
Principal Investigator: Saeed, Dr A
Other Investigators:
Wormstone, Professor IM
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Pharmacy
Organisation: University of East Anglia
Scheme: New Investigator Award
Starts: 01 October 2019 Ends: 30 September 2022 Value (£): 381,482
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Biomaterials Drug Formulation & Delivery
Tissue engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
31 Jan 2019 HT Investigator-led Panel Meeting - Jan 2019 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form

A cataract is an ophthalmic disease in which a normal clear eye lens becomes cloudy or opaque, leading to a decrease in vision. The eye lens is responsible for focusing light and producing a clear image on the retina at the back of the eye. Cataracts are typically an ongoing process of healthy ageing, but seldom develop rapidly. Cataracts are responsible for more than 51% of the world's blindness. In 2010, the WHO estimated that 20 million people were suffering from cataracts and that the prevalence is estimated to double, reaching 40 million in 2020. There are more than three million cataract surgeries performed in the US annually. The prevalence of age-related cataract increases with age; the average age of a cataract patient is approximately 68 years in the US, and 50 and 65 in China and the UK, respectively.

Cataracts are treated surgically by replacing the natural clouded lens with an artificial lens. During the procedure, the new lens is inserted into the remaining capsule, housing the new lens, and restoring visual acuity. Unfortunately, secondary blindness, also termed "secondary cataract" develops in a significant proportion of patients due to a wound-healing response known as posterior capsule opacification (PCO). Presently, the most common and effective treatment of PCO is laser capsulotomy, a procedure aimed to create a hole in the capsular bag to allow light to pass through again. However, this has many deleterious side effects and is also expensive for healthcare providers.

To reduce the complication of cataract surgery, artificial lenses have been extensively modified since they were first developed in 1952 by Harold Ridley. The new lens designs have helped reduce the impact of PCO progression, but prevention of PCO remains elusive. Lens manufacturing companies and research academics are continuously searching for new designs and materials to address PCO.

The overall aim of this proposal is to develop new lenses to restore high-quality vision following cataract surgery and prevent PCO formation. This research will unlock the potential of new lens design using emerging 3D printing technology as a new fabrication tool. This will have several advantages over the existing methods. The 3D printing method provides rapid prototype development of new lenses and takes weeks off the life cycle of lens development, expediting product development so lenses can reach patients quicker. There is also the potential to unlock new designs that would be impossible to produce by standard methods. These could potentially better the outcome of the surgery. This proposal also develops a drug delivery system to target the inflammation that occurs following surgery. The delivery system will enable controlled delivery of the drugs on-demand. Taken together, the new lens design, with local delivery of drugs, presents potential new therapies to treat cataract and prevent cataract complication.

This proposal will be led by Dr Aram Saeed who is an expert in drug delivery, polymer chemistry and development of medical devices, in collaboration with Prof Michael Wormstone, a world-leading expert in cataract and the PCO condition.

Key Findings
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