John Garner

Thermogelling polymers from Akina, Inc. used in development of controlled medicinal release in the eye

Blog Post created by John Garner on May 1, 2018

Mazier 2018 ocular thermogel PolySciTech.jpg

After surgery, several complications can occur as the human body is susceptible to infections, inflammatory response, and swelling. This is especially true in ocular surgery due to the relatively delicate structure of the eye. There are several medications which are effective at preventing infection (antibiotics), inflammation (steroids), and ocular over-pressure (hypotensives). However, each of these medicines is administered repeatedly through eye-drops. Eye-drops typically work poorly as the medicine is flushed away by tears and patients tend to forget to use them. A better solution to ensure appropriate application of medicine is to apply timed-release using a thermogel encapsulating microparticles to ensure each drug gets released at the appropriate times. Recently, researchers at University of Michigan, Johns Hopkins University, and Howard University, used several polymers including PLGA-PEG-PLGA (Polyvivo AK012, AK091), PLA-PEG-PLA (Polyvivo AK100), PLCL-PEG-PLCL (Polyvivo AK108, AK109) as well as PLGA (Polyvivo AP043, AP018, and AP087) from PolySciTech ( to generate microparticle loaded thermogels for controlled delivery of multiple therapeutic agents. This research holds promise to improve the outcomes from ocular surgery by preventing inflammation, infection and swelling. Read more: Mohammadi, Maziar, Kisha Patel, Seyedeh P. Alaie, Ron B. Shmueli, Cagri G. Besirli, Ronald G. Larson, and Jordan J. Green. "Injectable drug depot engineered to release multiple ophthalmic therapeutic agents with precise time profiles for postoperative treatment following ocular surgery." Acta biomaterialia (2018).


“Abstract: A multi-drug delivery platform is developed to address current shortcomings of post-operative ocular drug delivery. The sustained biodegradable drug release system is composed of biodegradable polymeric microparticles (MPs) incorporated into a bulk biodegradable hydrogel made from triblock copolymers with poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) center blocks and hydrophobic biodegradable polyester blocks such as poly(lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA), Poly(lactic acid) (PLA), or Poly(lactide-co-caprolactone) (PLCL) blocks. This system is engineered to flow as a liquid solution at room temperature for facile injection into the eye and then quickly gel as it warms to physiological body temperatures (approximately 37 °C). The hydrogel acts as an ocular depot that can release three different drug molecules at programmed rates and times to provide optimal release of each species. In this manuscript, the hydrogel is configured to release a broad-spectrum antibiotic, a potent corticosteroid, and an ocular hypotensive, three ophthalmic therapeutic agents that are essential for post-operative management after ocular surgery, each drug released at its own timescale. The delivery platform is designed to mimic current topical application of postoperative ocular formulations, releasing the antibiotic for up to a week, and the corticosteroid and the ocular hypotensive agents for at least a month. Hydrophobic blocks, such as PLCL, were utilized to prolong the release duration of the biomolecules. This system also enables customization by being able to vary the initial drug loading to linearly tune the drug dose released, while maintaining a constant drug release profile over time. This minimally invasive biodegradable multi-drug delivery system is capable of replacing a complex ocular treatment regimen with a simple injection. Such a depot system has the potential to increase patient medication compliance and reduce both the immediate and late term complications following ophthalmic surgery. Statement of Significance: After ocular surgery, patients routinely receive multiple medications including antibiotics, steroids and ocular hypotensives to ensure optimal surgical outcomes. The current standard of care for postoperative treatment after ocular surgery involves using eye drops daily, which has limited effectiveness mainly due to poor patient adherence. To improve patient experience and outcomes, this article presents the first thermoresponsive hydrogel able to release multiple drug molecules for the application of post-operative treatment following ocular surgery. By varying the parameters such as hydrogel type and polymer hydrophobicity, the drug release profile, duration and dosage can finely be tuned. The approach presented in this article can readily be applied to other applications by simply changing the drug loaded in the drug delivery system.”


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