Swindle-Reilly awarded $150,000 Owen Locke Foundation grant
Biomedical Engineering Assistant Professor Katelyn Swindle-Reilly, PhD, has been awarded an 18-month, $150,000 grant from the Owen Locke Foundation to evaluate the preclinical safety and effectiveness of her novel extended-release capsule in treating age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Age-related macular degeneration is the third leading cause of blindness and currently has no cure. Damaging the retina and the back of the eye, it can cause permanent vision loss and inhibit reading, driving and other daily activities.
One available treatment that helps patients with AMD maintain vision requires injections straight into the eye up to 12 times a year. Each injection brings risks of vision-threatening complications. Frequent injections are also a burden to patients and caregivers, particularly for elderly patients who are unable to drive or live far from the clinic.
To address these challenges, Swindle-Reilly and her team developed degradable, injectable microcapsules that can deliver bioactive therapeutics of varying sizes for 6-12 months.
“These microcapsules have potential to help patients by reducing frequency of injections to once or twice a year using the currently approved therapeutics,” explained Swindle-Reilly. “This can substantially lower barriers to frequent treatment of AMD, ultimately improving patient outcomes.”
The phase one study will demonstrate the safety and biocompatibility of capsule prototypes in an animal model and demonstrate sustained release for at least six months at levels with known effectiveness for an FDA-approved therapy.
Co-investigators on the project are Matthew Ohr, MD, professor of ophthalmology; Nagaraj Kerur, DVM/PhD, associate professor of ophthalmology; and Eric Miller, DVM, associate professor of veterinary medicine.
The Owen Locke Foundation Fund for Research in Macular Degeneration (OLFMD) aims to advance translation towards solutions and products with the potential to treat or prevent macular degeneration.