LaunchPad: Drug-Delivery System for Chronic Eye Diseases

LaunchPad, a project of UCSF's Clinical and Translational Science Institute, is designed to highlight the experiences and accomplishments of UCSF’s translational researchers, and to support them in their efforts to develop beneficial medical products.

By Angela Rizk-Jackson

Patients suffering from eye diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration benefit from the availability of highly effective medicines.

However, the methods for delivering these drugs to the eye keep patients trapped in a cycle of constant maintenance with monthly injections or cumbersome eye drops multiple times a day.

Robert Bhisitkul, MD, PhD, a professor of clinical opthamology at UC San Francisco, is all too familiar with this challenge and is working with Tejal Desai, PhD, professor of bioengineering and therapeutic sciences, on a solution to help improve the lives of patients.

“It’s a problem that has had only limited progress for decades and with Tejal’s technology we see a way to completely change this field,” says Bhisitkul. Desai works on the design, fabrication and use of advanced micro/nano biosystems, and has been developing a tiny, flexible, implantable film that is able to deliver conventional medicines and also complex antibody-based drugs used in retinal disease therapies.

Bhisitkul, an internationally renowned vitreo-retinal surgeon, maintains that current drug delivery approaches place a significant burden on patients and their families, with frequent trips to the doctor’s office and almost monthly eye injections that are painful and carry risks such as infection. “Not only will this new technology reduce the burden of the treatment for patients and their families, but we think it’s also going to maximize the therapeutic effect,” Bhisitkul said.

She shares her experiences in navigating translational science in a new series of educational resources featured on LaunchPad, a new online resource for investigators also managed by CTSI. She describes how Catalyst Awards advisors helped her better understand how to take her work through the next steps of the process, such as teaming up with strategic partners, and worked with her to expand her goals and create a broader delivery platform that also includes non-pain models.

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See news package on LaunchPad here

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