A hypotonic gel-forming eye drop provides enhanced intraocular delivery of a kinase inhibitor with melanin-binding properties for sustained protection of retinal ganglion cells

Yoo Chun Kim, Henry T. Hsueh, Matthew D. Shin, Cynthia A. Berlinicke, Hyounkoo Han, Nicole M. Anders, Avelina Hemingway, Kirby T. Leo, Renee Ti Chou, Hye Young Kwon, Matthew B. Appell, Usha Rai, Patricia Kolodziejski, Charles Eberhart, Ian Pitha, Donald J. Zack, Justin Hanes, Laura M. Ensign

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

While eye drops are the most common ocular dosage form, eye drops for treating diseases of the posterior segment (retina, choroid, optic nerve) have yet to be developed. In glaucoma, eye drops are used extensively for delivering intraocular pressure (IOP)-lowering medications to the anterior segment. However, degeneration of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) in the retina may progress despite significant IOP lowering, suggesting that a complementary neuroprotective therapy would improve glaucoma management. Here, we describe a hypotonic, thermosensitive gel-forming eye drop for effective delivery of sunitinib, a protein kinase inhibitor with activity against the neuroprotective targets dual leucine zipper kinase (DLK) and leucine zipper kinase (LZK), to enhance survival of RGCs after optic nerve injury. Further, binding of sunitinib to melanin in the pigmented cells in the choroid and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) led to prolonged intraocular residence time, including therapeutically relevant concentrations in the non-pigmented retinal tissue where the RGCs reside. The combination of enhanced intraocular absorption provided by the gel-forming eye drop vehicle and the intrinsic melanin binding properties of sunitinib led to significant protection of RGCs with only once weekly eye drop dosing. For a chronic disease such as glaucoma, an effective once weekly eye drop for neuroprotection could result in greater patient adherence, and thus, greater disease management and improved patient quality of life. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalDrug Delivery and Translational Research
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Melanin binding
  • Sustained delivery
  • Thermosensitive
  • Topical delivery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science

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