Research Fellow from the Steven Little Lab Highlighted by ARVO
Morgan Fedorchak, PhD (pictured), postdoctoral fellow, OTERO (Ocular Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Ophthalmology) Program, Louis J. Fox Center for Vision Restoration, and researcher in the laboratory of McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty member Steven Little, PhD, chair of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, associate professor, and Bicentennial Alumni Faculty Fellow of the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, recently participated in the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) annual meeting. Following the meeting, ARVO highlighted Dr. Fedorchak’s work on its website in the area of new treatment approaches for glaucoma.
In an effort to surmount glaucoma medication patient compliance issues, Dr. Fedorchak explained how she and researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and the UPMC Eye Center developed a new way to deliver brimonidine tartrate to the eye for about 1 month noninvasively, without the need for daily eye drops or periodic implants or injections. The new method consists of a patient-administered drop made of hydrogel and microparticles that provides sustained release of the drug. The amount of drug released is within the calculated therapeutic range of topical brimonidine drops.
To test the formulation in vivo, a single drop was administered to the inferior fornix of New Zealand white rabbits. Intraocular pressure (IOP) was measured periodically and histology was used to assess the biocompatibility of the system. Testing showed that the gel/microparticle drop could be easily administered, and that it formed a stable, opaque gel. The gel eye drop was easily removed, leaving no evidence of gel or microparticles. Cytotoxicity testing demonstrated no significant effect on conjunctival cell viability.
The authors believe this new system will provide a simple way for patients to achieve adequate IOP reduction without the issues surrounding injections or compliance with daily eye drop instillation.
The OTERO program is a postdoctoral research program where each fellow studies under co-investigators, one of whom is a clinician who specializes in ophthalmology, and the other investigator is a scientist that is a leader in regenerative medicine technologies such as tissue engineering or cellular therapy.
Illustration: The Little Lab.