Author(s): Diebold Y, Calonge M
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Abstract Nanocarriers, such as nanoparticles, have the capacity to deliver ocular drugs to specific target sites and hold promise to revolutionize the therapy of many eye diseases. Results to date strongly suggest that ocular medicine will benefit enormously from the use of this nanometric scale technology. One of the most important handicaps of the eye as a target organ for drugs is the presence of several barriers that impede direct and systemic drug access to the specific site of action. Superficial barriers include the ocular surface epithelium and the tear film, and internal barriers include the blood-aqueous and blood-retina barriers. Topical application is the preferred route for most drugs, even when the target tissues are at the back part of the eye where intraocular injections are currently the most common route of administration. Direct administration using any of these two routes faces many problems related to drug bioavailability, including side effects and repeated uncomfortable treatments to achieve therapeutic drug levels. In this regard, the advantages of using nanoparticles include improved topical passage of large, poorly water-soluble molecules such as glucocorticoid drugs or cyclosporine for immune-related, vision-threatening diseases. Other large and unstable molecules, such as nucleic acids, delivered using nanoparticles offer promising results for gene transfer therapy in severe retinal diseases. Also, nanoparticle-mediated drug delivery increases the contact time of the administered drug with its target tissue, such as in the case of brimonidine, one of the standard treatments for glaucoma, or corticosteroids used to treat autoimmune uveitis, a severe intraocular inflammatory process. In addition, nanocarriers permit the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin to reach inner eye structures using the transmucosal route. Finally, nanoparticles allow the possibility of targeted delivery to reach specific types of cancer, such as melanoma, leaving normal cells untouched. This review summarizes experimental results from our group and others since the beginnings of nanocarrier technology to deliver drugs to different locations in the eye. Also, it explores the future possibilities of nanoparticles not only as drug delivery systems but also as aides for diagnostic purposes. Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Prog Retin Eye Res
and referenced in Journal of Nanomedicine & Nanotechnology