Targeted delivery of hyaluronic acid to the ocular surface by a polymer-peptide conjugate system for dry eye disease


Hyaluronic acid (HA) solutions effectively lubricate the ocular surface and are used for the relief of dry eye related symptoms. However, HA undergoes rapid clearance due to limited adhesion, which necessitates frequent instillation. Conversely, highly viscous artificial tear formulations with HA blur vision and interfere with blinking. Here, we developed an HA-eye drop formulation that selectively binds and retains HA for extended periods of time on the ocular surface. We synthesized a heterobifunctional polymer-peptide system with one end binding HA while the other end binding either sialic acid-containing glycosylated transmembrane molecules on the ocular surface epithelium, or type I collagen molecule within the tissue matrix. HA solution was mixed with the polymer-peptide system and tested on both ex vivo and in vivo models to determine its ability to prolong HA retention. Furthermore, rabbit ocular surface tissues treated with binding peptides and HA solutions demonstrated superior lubrication with reduced kinetic friction coefficients compared to tissues treated with conventional HA solution. The results suggest that binding peptide-based solution can keep the ocular surface enriched with HA for prolonged times as well as keep it lubricated. Therefore, this system can be further developed into a more effective treatment for dry eye patients than a standard HA eye drop.