Microspheres as intraocular therapeutic tools in chronic diseases of the optic nerve and retina

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Pathologies affecting the optic nerve and the retina are one of the major causes of blindness. These diseases include age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic Retinopathy (DR) and glaucoma, among others. Also, there are genetic disorders that affect the retina causing visual impairment. The prevalence of neurodegenerative diseases of the posterior segment are increased as most of them are related with the elderly. Even with the access to different treatments, there are some challenges in managing patients suffering retinal diseases. One of them is the need for frequent interventions. Also, an unpredictable response to therapy has suggested that different pathways may be playing a role in the development of these diseases. The management of these pathologies requires the development of controlled drug delivery systems able to slow the progression of the disease without the need of frequent invasive interventions, typically related with endophthalmitis, retinal detachment, ocular hypertension, cataract, inflammation, and floaters, among other. Biodegradable microspheres are able to encapsulate low molecular weight substances and large molecules such as biotechnological products. Over the last years, a large variety of active substances has been encapsulated in microspheres with the intention of providing neuroprotection of the optic nerve and the retina. The purpose of the present review is to describe the use of microspheres in chronic neurodegenerative diseases affecting the retina and the optic nerve. The advantage of microencapsulation of low molecular weight drugs as well as therapeutic peptides and proteins to be used as neuroprotective strategy is discussed. Also, a new use of the microspheres in the development of animal models of neurodegeneration of the posterior segment is described.
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