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Navigating the Future of Eye Health: Insights into Advanced Ophthalmic Formulations

Navigating the Future of Eye Health: Insights into Advanced Ophthalmic Formulations

As we’ve covered in the past, the World Health Organization estimates that over 2.2 billion people are affected by eye diseases, including glaucoma, conjunctivitis, dry eye disease, and age-related macular degeneration, among others. This surge of ocular conditions has fostered significant research and development over the last few years, with a number of exciting advancements poised to revolutionize how we treat and manage eye diseases.

We recently spoke with Dr. Kasey Minick, an esteemed member of the GL CHEMTEC Scientific Advisory Board, to explore some of the most exciting tech advances in ophthalmic drug formulations, the benefits these technologies can provide, and the role CDMOs have to play in their continued development.

Advanced Ophthalmic Formulations: Extended Release, Targeted Delivery, and Beyond

The future of ophthalmic formulations is brimming with innovation, with several groundbreaking technologies promising to reshape the landscape. These include:

  • Extended release formulations: For patients with eye conditions requiring multiple daily doses of eye drops, the treatment process can be frustrating and challenging. Extended release formulations, such as prodrugs and mucoadhesive nanoemulsions, offer a solution by gradually releasing medication over an extended period, reducing the need for frequent dosing.

    "With extended release formulations, it's not just a one-and-done. You have that extended release over a longer period of time and that can increase efficacy and reduce dosing frequency, which is huge for patient compliance," Dr. Minick said, explaining that this more convenient treatment option can lead to improved patient outcomes and better adherence.
  • Targeted specific receptors: Unlike traditional eye drops, which often deliver medication throughout the entire eye, a more targeted approach delivers medication directly to specific receptors involved in the disease process.

    The development of diverse nanocarrier technologies and carriers is one of the most notable advancements in this area. Nanocarriers currently being tested include: 
    • Polymer-based nanocarriers
    • Lipid-based nanocarriers
    • Saturated lipid nanoparticles
    • Nanostructured lipid carriers
    • Liposomes
    • Cubosomes
    • Micro- and nano-emulsions
    • Nanosuspensions
    • Dendrimers
    • Micelles
    "Instead of just administering a drop that goes all over the eye and potentially causing some irritation, with this approach you can specifically target the relevant receptor to get better efficacy and reduce side effects," Dr. Minick explains. This precision targeting holds immense promise for personalized medicine in ophthalmology, offering improved efficacy and reduced side effects.
  • Biocompatible materials: The development of biocompatible materials is crucial for improving patient comfort and compliance, particularly in long-term treatments. Certain eye drop formulations can cause irritation and discomfort, which can negatively impact patient adherence to treatment regimens. 

    Biocompatible materials are specifically engineered to minimize irritation and adverse reactions. By reducing the potential for discomfort, these materials enhance the overall patient experience, leading to improved treatment tolerance and better overall satisfaction.

    Promising biocompatible materials include:
    • Cyclodextrins to enhance drug solubility and reduce irritation.
    • Mucoadhesive polymers to prolong ocular residence time.
    • Nanoemulsions to enhance solubility and transcorneal permeation.

Beyond Eye Drops: Innovation in Contact Lens Technology

Advancements in the field extend beyond medicated eye drops. Dr. Minick also highlighted exciting developments and trends in the contact lens space, including:

  • Surface modifications and amphiphilic surfactants: To further improve comfort and wearability, contact lens manufacturers are exploring surface modifications and incorporating amphiphilic surfactants into lens care solutions.

    These surfactants have both hydrophilic and hydrophobic components, allowing them to interact with the lens material and the tear film, respectively. This approach helps maintain a smooth, wettable lens surface, reducing discomfort and providing a "no lens" feeling during wear.
  • Sustainable and eco-friendly manufacturing: In line with environmental consciousness, manufacturers are increasingly adopting water-based green chemistry approaches for lens production. These sustainable manufacturing processes aim to reduce the environmental impact of contact lens production, contributing to a greener future for healthcare.
  • Revival of peroxide-based solutions: “As people are getting more concerned about what they're putting in their eyes and the hygiene of their lenses, peroxide-based solutions are getting a second look because they can be very biocompatible and clean,” Dr. Minick said.

    This aligns with findings from recent studies. Lakkis (2016) found peroxide-based systems were more effective than multipurpose solutions against resistant bacterial strains, which may drive increased adoption. Additionally, a 2021 review by Zeri et al. noted that “peroxide systems have regained popularity in recent years due to their broad antimicrobial spectrum and lack of preservatives that can cause ocular surface toxicity.” 

    Navigating the Future of Image for Eye Health Insights into Advanced Ophthalmic Formulations (1)

Overcoming Hurdles in Ophthalmic Drug Development

While the future of ophthalmic formulations promises significant advancements for patient care, several challenges need to be addressed to bring these innovations to market successfully.

  • Balancing competing priorities: Successful ophthalmic drug development requires a delicate balancing act between several factors, including as efficacy, patient compliance, cost-effectiveness, and manufacturability. "It's crucial to achieve a formulation that not only works effectively but is also easy for patients to use regularly and is cost-effective for manufacturers to produce," Dr. Minick said. 
  • Navigating the global regulatory landscape: Navigating the regulatory hurdles for global market approval can be complex, as each market has its own specific requirements.

    "Navigating global regulatory requirements early in development is key to avoiding costly delays and ensuring a smooth path to market," Dr. Minick said. 
  • Selecting materials for stability and safety: Selecting compatible raw materials is paramount for safe and stable production. These materials must ensure the drug maintains its potency throughout its shelf life and doesn't cause adverse reactions in patients. It’s also important to focus on quality.

    “High-quality raw materials are essential, especially to avoid complications during sterile filtration processes, which are crucial for maintaining product integrity," Dr. Minick said. 

The Role of CDMOs 

As novel technologies reshape the way we approach eye care, the role of Contract Development and Manufacturing Organizations (CDMOs) becomes increasingly pivotal. Pharmaceutical companies are increasingly partnering with CDMOs to leverage the latest innovations and overcome the challenges mentioned above.

According to Dr. Minick, there are several factors to consider when evaluating a CDMO for ophthalmic formulations:

  • Eye care expertise: A strong track record in developing and manufacturing ophthalmic products.
  • Regulatory experience: A thorough understanding of the distinct regulatory requirements for medical devices and pharmaceuticals.
  • Advanced facilities: With robust HVAC systems for sterile processing of ophthalmic products.
  • A full spectrum of services: Encompassing development, manufacturing, testing, and release.
  • Quality management: Proven expertise in managing projects to meet Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Good X Practices (GXP).
  • Capacity and scalable operations: Do they have the capacity to meet your current manufacturing needs? And do they have the ability to adapt to growing demand? 

“The key to success is having effective project management with knowledgeable, multifunctional teams,” Dr. Minick said, explaining the impact the right CDMO partner can have.

“It’s a real game changer to have a CDMO with expertise in formulations who understands regulatory affairs and can collaborate closely with manufacturing – a partner that handles tech transfers, and acts as the CMC lead, from conception all the way through the life of the product. It ensures well-made, profitable products that will stay on the market for decades. I know because that's exactly how GL CHEMTEC operates.”

GLC: Your Trusted CDMO Partner

GL CHEMTEC is passionate about your success and committed to solving your most complex chemistry challenges. With our expertise in small molecule API development and tailored biomedical polymers, we offer fast, flexible, cutting-edge solutions. Our commitment to a collaborative partnership means we scale and adapt precisely to meet your evolving needs.

GL CHEMTEC provides:

  • A unique combination of expertise in small molecule and biomedical polymers tailored to the target.
  • Integrated solutions that accelerate early-stage API development and innovative drug delivery solutions, with seamless continuity from R&D to manufacturing.
  • Strong organic polymer expertise and advanced biomedical materials applied to medical devices, drug delivery, and ophthalmic applications.
  • Unmatched expertise in polymer design and development, including tailored polymers, hydrogels, films, and emulsions/nano-emulsions.
  • Advanced custom hydrogels and silicone hydrogels for drug delivery through the eye.
  • North American facilities, offering a reliable alternative to overseas supply chains and partner.
  • A highly customer-centric culture and a 22-year track record of success.
  • ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 13485:2016 certifications.

We invite you to explore our capabilities and facilities and get in touch with us.