NTU's new centre to engineer eye-disease treatments

A new centre at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has developed a slow-release drug that can be injected to treat the eye disease glaucoma.

Researchers at the Ocular Therapeutic Engineering Centre, which officially opened on Tuesday, wrapped an existing anti-glaucoma drug in tiny nanocapsules which can be injected painlessly into the eye's surface.

A single injection can deliver drugs for up to three months, and these are expected to work better than current treatments, where the same drug is applied as eyedrops that often flow out of the eye and are hard for patients to remember to apply.

Now, human trials of the technology are about to begin. The centre will also develop technologies to treat other eye conditions like cataracts and retinal diseases.

Glaucoma, where pressure builds up in the eye and destroys the optic nerve, causes gradual blindness over many years and affects 6 per cent of the Singapore population.

NTU Provost Freddy Boey, himself the inventor of medical technologies like heart stents that slowly let drugs into the bloodstream, said: "Taking the right drug is one thing, but taking the right drug and releasing it in a timely way is very important."

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