This review highlights how hydrogel formulations can improve intravitreal protein delivery to the posterior segment of the eye in order to increase therapeutic outcome and patient compliance. Several therapeutic proteins have shown excellent clinical successes for the treatment of various intraocular diseases. However, drug delivery to the posterior segment of the eye faces significant challenges due to multiple physiological barriers preventing drugs from reaching the retina, among which intravitreal protein instability and rapid clearance from the site of injection. Hence, frequent injections are required to maintain therapeutic levels. Moreover, because the world population ages, the number of patients suffering from ocular diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy (DR) is increasing and causing increased health care costs. Therefore, there is a growing need for suitable delivery systems able to tackle the current limitations in retinal protein delivery, which also may reduce costs. Hydrogels have shown to be promising delivery systems capable of sustaining release of therapeutic proteins and thus extending their local presence. Here, an extensive overview of preclinically developed intravitreal hydrogels is provided with attention to the rational design of clinically useful intravitreal systems. The currently used polymers, crosslinking mechanisms, in vitro/in vivo models and advancements are discussed together with the limitations and future perspective of these biomaterials.
Full Access Link: Journal of Controlled Release