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Fewer needles in one's eye: Swindle-Reilly's work wins award

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the U.S. for individuals over the age of 65, and the third leading cause of blindness worldwide.

A common problem in patients with wet age-related macular degeneration is that new blood vessels can grow under the macular area of the retina, causing swelling, scarring, and further vision loss.

Swindle-Reilly and second-year CBE grad student Pengfei Jiang, who holds a flask containing some of the microparticles used in the new drug delivery system.One treatment for people with wet AMD who are experiencing this problem offers significant improvement in patient outcomes, but also has a pretty big drawback. The drug which inhibits vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)—the protein which stimulates new blood vessel growth—requires a monthly injection into the eye.

However, Professor Katelyn Swindle-Reilly, an assistant professor in the departments of biomedical engineering and chemical and biomolecular engineering, is working on a solution. 

Swindle-Reilly, who just won the Lois Hagelberger-Huebner Young Investigator Award from the Ohio Lions Eye Research Foundation, and Dr. Matthew Ohr in Ohio State's Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, are developing a unique technology to tailor drug release from biodegradable polymer microparticles. Use of this technology will allow for the sustained release of Bevacizumab (the anti-VEGF drug) into the vitreous portion of the eye, greatly reducing the frequency of ocular injections as a result.

Swindle-Reilly and Ohr's project proposal, entitled “Sustained Release Bevacizumab Injectable for the Treatment of Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration," received $107,000 per year for two years. It is the first Young Investigator Award offered by the Ohio Lions Eye Research Foundation.

Swindle-Reilly, who joined The Ohio State University last fall as an assistant professor, also holds a courtesy appointment in the Department of Ophthalmology. Swindle-Reilly is known for using polymeric biomaterials to develop medical devices in ophthalmology and wound care, and was selected to participate in Ohio State's REACH for Commercialization program earlier this year.

by Wenda Williamson, Dept. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering