The Applied Physics
Laboratory has licensed a nationally and
internationally patented formula
for eye drops that could speed healing and prevent
cloudiness after laser vision-correction surgery.
The exclusive agreement allows Illinois-based AdPharma
to develop, seek regulatory approval
for and market the drops, invented by APL researcher David
Silver with collaborators Adrienne
Csutak, Andras Berta and Jozsef Tozser of the University
Medical School of Debrecen, Hungary.
Studies have shown that nearly one in 10 laser-surgery
patients develops hazy vision several
months after the operation; in some cases the effects can
last a year or longer. The APL-developed
drops would prevent this "haze" from forming in the cornea.
Both PRK and LASIK procedures are performed by using a
laser to reshape the tissue of the
cornea, which is accessed by removing the top layers of the
cornea or by creating a replaceable flap.
The drops, now in preclinical experiments, are a
plasminogen activator, which stimulates a natural
enzyme in tears that promotes healing in the cornea. As
doctors can't yet predict which patients will
heal abnormally and suffer cloudy vision, the researchers
believe the drops could be provided to every
patient after surgery because they're harmless to those who
wouldn't otherwise develop the haze.
Research on the drops stems from a collaboration that
began during Silver's yearlong
professorship at Johns Hopkins' Wilmer Eye Institute, at
the same time that Csutak had a fellowship
there. Additional work ensued while Silver was a visiting
professor of ophthalmology in Debrecen.
The drops' potential to accelerate healing and help
thousands of eye-surgery patients helped
them capture APL's Invention of the Year award in 2001. The
technology is patented in the United
States and Australia; patents are pending in Japan, Canada