Ocular Drug Delivery

Ocular drug treatment is usually accomplished as local drug administration, but many ocular tissues are difficult to reach with simple eye drop administration. Retinal disorders cause visual impairment and blindness in growing numbers of patients worldwide.  Most retinal diseases do not have drug treatments yet and intravitreal injection is the only way to deliver drugs into the retina. New delivery approaches are needed to enable wide use of emerging retinal treatment modalities using less invasive routes of administration and long acting intraocular injections. Furthermore, new quantitative tools are needed to guide the design of ocular drug delivery systems. 

Ocular drug delivery group operates at University of Helsinki and University of Eastern Finland (Kuopio Campus).  Our research includes drug delivery system research, experimental ocular pharmacokinetics and -dynamics (PK/PD) and computational modeling.

 Drug delivery systems research involves studies on polymeric micelles, polymersomes, other polymeric nanostructures, light activated liposomes and peptide conjugates for intravitreal injections and topical ocular application of small molecules, RNA species and proteins.  We are also searching eye targeting peptides and aptamers in systematic manner using phage display and aptamer libraries. This research is funded by 3 ongoing EU-ITN projects (NANOMED, OCUTHER, IT-DED3),  two Business Finland projects and Mega-Grant from Government of Russian Federation. 

Experimental PK/PD research involves studies on ocular membrane permeability, drug transport, melanin binding, and in vivo pharmacokinetics.  Our  pharmacokinetic studies utilize LC/MS and in vivo fluorometry, while pharmacodynamics part relies on optical coherence tomography, fluorescein angiography and electroretinograms.  Our aim is to build ‘virtual eye’ that could be used to simulate ocular drug dosing regimens and their pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic outcomes.  We utilize both chemoinformatic approaches and pharmacokinetic modeling methods. This research is funded by Academy of Finland, Roche (Basel) and Absorption Systems (San Diego, CA).

We have close collaboration with new Laboratory of Biohybrid Materials for Modern Biomedicine at St. Petersburg State University where professor Urtti is working as leading scientist of Mega-Grant project.

Recent review article gives good overview of the field and our research activity (Del Amo et al., Pharmacokinetic Aspects in Retinal Drug Delivery. Prog Ret Eye Res 57: 134-185, 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.preteyeres.2016.12.001

  • Ocular Drug Delivery group at University of Eastern Finland
  • Laboratory of Biohybrid Technologies at St. Petersburg State University

Involvement in research service infrastructures:

  • EU OpenScreen ERIC
  • Drug Discovery and Chemical Biology
  • Ocular Drug Development Laboratory