Anti-VEGF treatments have been saving the sight of thousands of people since 2006. In return, however, patients have been making clinical visits as often as monthly for injections. Not only is that a burden on their, and their doctors’, time, but it is very expensive and carries risks. To address the problem, new drug-delivery systems are being developed, such as eye drops and implanted time release capsules.
Now, Replenish, Inc.™ is developing a small, refillable, implantable ocular drug pump. According to the company’s web site, “The MicroPump™ implant is a ‘smart device’ that is programmable to dispense nanoliter-sized doses of drugs every hour, day or month as needed before refills. It is attached unseen to the side exterior of the eyeball, and it delivers drugs to the interior of the eyeball through a tube permanently inserted through the white covering of the eye.
The device was initially designed for patients undergoing drug treatment for glaucoma. A second version is expected to benefit people with chronic diseases of the retina, eg. diabetic macular edema and wet age-related macular degeneration. Due to its larger reservoir volume, it can be easily refilled for up to seven years of use.
The MicroPump™ is still in human trials, but it is showing promise as another way to lower risks of current injection protocols and greatly lessen the burden on patients who are undergoing multiple treatments.