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Glaucoma can be treated at night – scientists developed new cannabis-based drugs and a hydrogel delivery system

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Posted April 12, 2018

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness around the world. It is hard to treat and even approved methods are not very effective. For example, drops can deliver some medication to the eye, but they have one significant drawback – only around 5 % of the liquid stays in the eye. Now scientists from The University of British Columbia developed hydrogel drops that can be used at night.

Glaucoma can be treated using drops, but most of them simply roll off the eye. Image credit: Snoop via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Drops simply roll down the eyeball when you use them. If you are active, they are not going to stay in your eye at all. But even that minute speck of medication that stays in your eye is not very effective, because it typically fails to reach the back of the eye, from where all that pressure that characterizes glaucoma originates from. And so scientists developed hydrogel-based eye drops that contain thousands of nanoparticles with cannabigerolic acid. Initial tests with pig corneas showed that this new medicine can reach the back of the eye.

Cannabigerolic acid is a cannabis compound that has shown promise in relieving glaucoma symptoms. Patients would have to apply the drops before going to sleep and that would be it. Medicine would be absorbed quickly and, because eyes wouldn’t be as active as during the day, could do its work repairing nerve damage and relieving pressure. These drops could only be applied before going to sleep, because the hydrogel would form a lens, which would impair vision somewhat. But by morning it would be completely dissolved. If this new treatment get approved and developed into its final form, it would probably be the first cannabis-based drug for glaucoma. Combined with this novel medicine delivery method it could become a real breakthrough in glaucoma treatment.

Cannabigerolic acid in a nanoparticle-hydrogel composite could slowly, but effectively penetrate through the eye to treat glaucoma – it is a really promising treatment. Syed Haider Kamal, co-author of the study, said: “This composite could also potentially be used for other drugs designed to treat eye disorders like infections or macular degeneration”. Of course, before any of this becomes reality, these drops will have to go through the usual testing and approval procedures.

Cannabis-based medicine is still facing opposition – it is simply something people are not used to. But scientific research and proven effectiveness is the best way to prove that it is real and effective medicine.

Source: UBC

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