Science 2 min read

Researchers Develop Hydrogel to Treat Corneal Melting

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A team of researchers from the University of New Hampshire recently developed a new hydrogel for treating corneal melting.

Corneal melting is an incurable eye disease caused by different health issues like autoimmune diseases, chemical burns, or failed medical eye procedures like LASIK treatment or cataract removal.

A person’s cornea usually melts when its immune cells produce matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and other zinc-dependent enzymes uncontrollably.

The new hydrogel could prevent the corneal melting by removing the zinc ions which deactivate the unwanted enzymes.

Kyung Jae Jeong, assistant professor of chemical engineering at UNH, was quoted as saying:

“Most of the current MMP inhibitors used to treat this condition work by binding to the zinc ions within the MMPs. However, once injected into the body, the MMP inhibitors travel through the bloodstream and entire body and can cause severe side effects because they are binding with and deactivating the zinc ions in other tissue.”

Hydrogel to Treat Corneal Melting

In their paper, Jeong and his team explained how their new hydrogel could be used to cure corneal melting.

The hydrogel works by deactivating the MMP-1, MMP-2, and MMP-9 enzymes which are responsible for the eye disease. They used in vitro and ex vivo experiments to test the viability of the hydrogel when it comes to treating melted corneas, and the results were found to be promising.

“Our hydrogel works entirely different because it is localized, just in the eye, and deactivates MMPs by eliminating the zinc ions from the cornea. And since it would be a contact lens, if there were any issues, the patient would simply remove it.”

~ Kyung Jae Jeong, UNH

The team reported that the hydrogel could be used in making contact lenses to allow a more localized treatment of the eye, avoiding side effects in other parts of the body.

At the moment, the patent for the hydrogel was already been filed by UNHInnovation.

Read More: New Eye-Drilling Nanopropellers Could Aid In Retinal Disease Treatment

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Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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