Kitchener-Waterloo

Gene therapy treatment for glaucoma tested at University of Waterloo

A University of Waterloo researcher is testing a glaucoma treatment that focuses on gene therapy instead of treating a patients eye pressure. The test comes in the form of eye drops and not a big needle in the eye.

Testing done with eye drops and not needles, says researcher

Marianna Foldvari, a professor in the Faculty of Science Department with the University of Waterloo, said studies have found the traditional ways to treat glaucoma don't work anymore and she hopes to take a new non-invasive method to the clinical trial stage. ( Christine Kufske/University of Waterloo)

A treatment for glaucoma that uses gene therapy is the focus of one researcher at the University of Waterloo.

Marianna Foldvari, a professor in the Faculty of Science Department with the University of Waterloo, said studies have found the traditional ways to treat glaucoma don't work anymore and she hopes to take a new, non-invasive method to the clinical trial stage.

"Even though we administer traditional eye drops that help lower the eye pressure, there is still damage to the retina," Foldvari said.

"So we've created these small nanoparticles that we could administer without needles in the form of eye drops."

No big needles

The gene therapy nanoparticles, which would be administered through eye drops, would carry the genes to the back of the eye protecting the retina and the optic nerve.

"People would not receive big needles in the eye when they receive the treatment," Foldvari said, noting this is "quite significant in terms of being patient friendly."

Her group is at the pre-clinical stage and they are trying to validate the nanoparticle technology to make sure it reaches the back of the eye in the right quantity.

Foldvari admitted it's a long road ahead for testing, but she and the PhD students she is working with are inspired by the patients and clinicians who are supportive of their research.