Nano Particles to treat eye infection

Context

Scientists at the Hyderabad-based CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CSIR-CCMB) have developed a novel way to treat fungal keratitis

What is Keratitis?

  • Keratitis is the inflammation of the eye
  • It starts with redness and itching and might eventually lead to blindness
  • Cause of infection
  • Keratitis can be caused by both bacteria and fungi
  • Fungi attach themselves to the cornea and release enzymes that break down the corneal proteins for their nutritional requirements
  • In the process the cornea also gets inflamed

What are the effects of this disease?

  • Corneal damage causes wound and scar formation leading to severe visual impairment
  • It is estimated that about 30% of keratitis cases in India lead to blindness
  • Treating keratitis infection is a challenge because it is difficult to maintain a therapeutic dose at the corneal surface for long periods as blinking and tear formation washes off the drug

How does nano-particle technique work?

  • Certain antibodies get attached to the outer surface of the nanoparticles
  • It anchors the nanoparticles to the corneal surface
  • The infected cornea expresses a set of receptors (TLR4) when infection sets in
  • The team has used antibodies to these receptors to anchor the nanoparticles to the cornea
  • In case of severe infection, more receptors are expressed on the cornea and more nanoparticles get bound to the receptors
  • Since they are bound, the residence time in the eye is long
  • Neither blinking nor tear formation washes off the nanoparticles
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