Ophthalmic drug delivery remains the most challenging task to pharmaceutical scientists. This is due to the unique structure of the eye, which restricts the entry of drug molecules at the required site of action. For example, drug delivery through topical (e.g., eye drops) and systemic (e.g. oral tablets) routes result in low or sub-therapeutic drug levels due to multiple ocular barriers. Currently, the effective method of administering drugs in conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma, which account for most of the blindness worldwide, is by either frequent eye drops or intravitreal injections (i.e., direct injection into the eye). However, injections cause significant tissue trauma, rise in intraocular pressure, uncomfortable and painful to patients, requires professional training, can cause severe injection-related infections (e.g., endophthalmitis, hemorrhage, and cataract). On the other hand, eye drops have shown low bioavailability and the chief problem is patients forgetting to take them on time and for long-term.
Our proposed solution is to formulate novel biodegradable nanocarriers for a long-term drug delivery to the eye, to prevent frequent injections/eyedrops into the eye. In this regard, during the 3-years of this PhD project; the student will (i) design, development and characterize drug-loaded nanocarriers, (ii) engineer in situ forming gels (ii) develop analytical techniques for polymer and drug analysis, (iii) investigate in vitro/ex vivo release of drugs from the nanocarriers and gel and their combinations, (iv) examine the biodegradation and biocompatibility in cell-cultures, and (v) conduct preliminary in vivo examinations to determine the suitability of these delivery system for human application.
The student will receive sufficient training in the experimental design and techniques for the development of novel nanocarriers-based formulations.
The student will work in an active Ocular Drug Delivery Research group, where he/she will be exposed to a range of novel formulations, techniques, and characterization. This project will also provide ample opportunity for the PhD student to gain exceptional knowledge in various aspects of pharmaceutical product development and ophthalmological techniques. It will also provide opportunity for the PhD student to work along experienced team members from both industry and academia and present their research at national and international conferences.