Researchers from the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and Penn State Hershey College of Medicine identified a novel therapeutic that reduces sterile inflammation within the cornea. Published in the June issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, Dr. Eric Pearlman and Dr. Mark Kester identified a novel ceramide, a natural compound that when delivered in nano-sized packages reduces corneal haze, corneal thickening and inflammation. These nano-sized packages permit the use of ceramide as an eye drop. Drs. Pearlman and Kester are working towards human trials with this reagent.
Inflammation and corneal infections are potential side effects of contact lens wear, especially with extended wear contact lenses that remain in the eye for up to two weeks. Given that there are some 30 million contact lens wearers in the United States and 140 million worldwide, even a small percent of side effects (<5%) such as irritation or pain has an enormous economic effect on contact lens use, as wearers who experience will stop wearing lenses. Although steroids are effective in blocking inflammatory responses and can ease irritation, the major side effects of steroid use include increased ocular pressure that can lead to development of glaucoma. An alternate anti-inflammatory approach is therefore an important clinical target for Drs. Pearlman and Kester.
"This research is an important finding within the visual sciences and an excellent example of collaboration between two highly regarded institutions," said Eric Pearlman, Ph.D., Professor and Director of Research, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine's department of ophthalmology.