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Development of Autoclave Stable Cationic Polymer Eluting Antifungal Contact Lenses for Fusarium Keratitis

Participant:

Junietta Lim

Category:

Early-stage Researcher

Affiliation:

National University of Singapore

Fungal keratitis is a significant cause of fungal corneal infection and blindness. Among the causative species, Fusarium solani is especially prevalent in tropical and subtropical climates and is particularly difficult to manage. Presently, only one ophthalmic antifungal eye drop formulation is approved; but due to low bioavailability, frequent administration is needed over a long period of time. In contrast, contact lens (CL) acts as a physical barrier, forming a post-lens tear film that prolongs drug contact with the cornea for maximum penetration, making it ~35 times more effective, and a promising ocular drug delivery device. Nonetheless, conventional antifungal drugs may not possess sufficient thermal stability to withstand autoclave conditions during CL manufacturing. The overall objectives of this work are to determine the autoclave stability of three cationic polymers, their uptake and release characteristics from a soft CL, as well as the antifungal and optical properties of the polymer-loaded CL. We determined the antifungal properties of these cationic polymers before and after autoclaving and all three polymers displayed fungicidal activity against the tested Fusarium strains, which was retained after autoclaving. Additionally, more than 50% uptake into CL was recorded and polymer release was sustained over 24 hours. Therapeutic (minimum fungicidal concentration) amounts of branched polyethylenimine and poly-L-homoarginine were released within 30 minutes. All the polymer-loaded CLs were visually clear, with more than 95% light transmittance recorded at 600nm. These results highlight the prospect of polymer-eluting CL as a more efficient alternative treatment that may improve clinical outcomes from Fusarium keratitis.

References
1. Brown, L., Leck, A. K., Gichangi, M., Burton, M. J., & Denning, D. W. (2021). The global incidence and diagnosis of fungal keratitis. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 21(3).
2. Patton, T. F., & Francoeur, M. (1978). Ocular bioavailability and systemic loss of topically applied ophthalmic drugs. American Journal of Ophthalmology, 85(2), 225- 229.

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