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A new type of eye drop being developed by scientists at the University of Birmingham holds promise for treating one of the major causes of blindness in the United Kingdom.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a health issue that currently affects more than 600,000 people throughout the UK, and despite being painless, causes the person to slowly lose their central vision — typically in both eyes. With an aging population, statistics suggest that this number could increase in the coming years.

Current AMD treatment is less than ideal with patients undergoing repeated monthly injections to the eyes for a minimum of three years. While the discomfort to patients is cause enough for concern, injections introduce potential for tearing and infections inside the eye and increasing the risk of blindness.

Dr. Felicity de Cogan and her team, from the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Inflammation and Aging, have created an alternative solution. By administering the drug as an eye drop, the AMD serum can affect the same outcome as the injection with reduced risk and discomfort to the patient. Using a cell-penetrating peptide (CPP), the eyedrops would be able to carry the drug to the affected part of the eye within minutes.

Dr. de Cogan feels that self-administering such a drug through eye drop would “lead to a significant reduction in adverse outcomes and health care costs compared with current treatments,” and undoubtedly reduce patient stress. “We believe this is going to be very important in terms of empowering of patients and reducing the cost of treatment to the NHS,” Dr. de Cogan says.

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