Development of hydrogel implants for the treatment of eye tumors
Researchers from the IMC have been working on the development of new ways of transporting anticancer drugs. Scientists want to make the treatment of retinoblastoma, the most common eye cancer in children, more effective with the help of a hydrogel implant, that could release the drug directly into the eye. Researchers from the IMC have been involved in the development of hydrogel implants for the treatment of retinoblastoma for five years. The latest research results have now been published in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics.
"The results so far suggest that thanks to the gradual release of the drug from the hydrogel implant, which can be imagined as a contact lens, for example, chemotherapeutics can be delivered to the eye without compromising its integrity. As a result, there is no risk of the tumor spreading into the body and the total administered dose is many times lower than intravenous system administration,” explains Dr. Jakub Širc from the Department of Polymer Networks and Gels. Due to this drug delivery method, the undesirable side effects of chemotherapy are also significantly suppressed. The new treatment strategy has already been successfully tested on rabbits.
"The very idea of using our hydrogel implant for the treatment of retinoblastoma was born during a discussion with MUDr. Karel Švojgr, Phd., from the Department of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, and doc. MUDr. Pavel Pochop, PhD. from the Department of Ophthalmology for Children and Adults, 2nd Faculty of Medicine, Charles University and Motol University Hospital," says Dr. Jakub Širc. All experiments on the rabbit model were performed by chemists in cooperation with a team led by MUDr. Jiří Uhlík, PhD. from the Department of Histology and Embryology, 2nd Faculty of Medicine, Charles University. In experiments on pig models they cooperate with MUDr. Tarasem Ardanem PhD. from the Institute of Animal Physiology and Genetics of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Liběchov. Scientists from the IMC are working with colleagues from the Department of Analytical Chemistry at Faculty of Science at Charles University, and also with MUDr. Ondřej Slanař, PhD., from the Institute of Pharmacology of the 1st Faculty of Medicine, Charles University and ophthalmologists from the Royal Vinohrady University Hospital.
As with other research projects, researchers have to deal with a number of complex technical details, such as determining drugs in biological matrices with sufficient sensitivity or adjusting implant production to fit the eye of an experimental rabbit or pig. However, the biggest problem is financing the project. "Although it would be potentially possible to extend the developed method of treatment to the treatment of other diseases, the main goal is the treatment of retinoblastoma, which affects 5 to 10 children a year in the Czech Republic. Unfortunately, this is not exactly interesting for potential partners from the commercial sphere, " concludes the interview Dr. Jakub Širc.