Research groups
  • Modular and Programmable Polymeric Platform for Controlled Ocular Drug  Delivery

Contact Information

A.I Virtasen aukio 1, 4th floor,
P.O.Box 55
00014 Helsingin yliopisto
tel. +358 9 1915 0335
fax +358 9 1915 0330

Modular and Programmable Polymeric Platform for Controlled Ocular Drug  Delivery

Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a naturally occurring anionically charged linear polysaccharide. This  polymer is present in the extracellular matrix of all vertebrates, especially in synovial fluid, cartilage, vitreous humour and skin. It has various important functions in the body, including cell proliferation and migration, increasing the resilience of cartilage and participation in healing processes in damaged skin.

Purified hyaluronic acid and its derivatives have many biomedical uses. Solutions of HA are used for example to treat osteoarthritis of the knee (viscosupplementation), to treat dry, scaly skin or as a biomaterial scaffold in tissue engineering. An important application area of hyaluronic acid is in the treatment of ocular diseases, in simplest case by mixing HA with drugs to prolong their action. However, unmodified hyaluronic acid suffers from a relatively short half-life in the body and degrades easily via an enzymatic pathway. By chemical modification of HA the degradation and various other properties of the formulation can be adjusted to improve the therapeutic effect.

We investigate modular polymeric structures based on HA that would combine two important goals in ocular drug delivery: long duration of action and cellular drug targeting. This project is funded by the Academy of Finland in the Programmable Materials programme and involves collaboration between the Laboratory of Polymer Chemistry and the Centre for Drug Research, University of Helsinki..

structure of hyaluronan
(1) Borke, T.; Winnik, F. M.; Tenhu, H.; Hietala, S. Carbohydrate Polymers 2015, 116, 42–50.