The eyes have a complex set of defensive barriers to protect internal structures. That is why getting drugs into the eye is still either not very effective, as with eye drops, or very invasive, as with a needle. Now a team of European scientists has developed a way of delivering microscopic capsules, soon to also be loaded with drugs, deep into the eye without damaging it.
The team made so-called “nanopropellers” that are shaped like small helixes that are coated with a highly non-stick coating. Each of these nanopropellers is only 500 nanometers in width, hundreds of times smaller than the width of human hair, making them small enough to squeeze through the vitreous, the clear and stiff material between the retina and lens of the eye.
The devices can be made of different materials and can contain magnetic materials so that they can be pushed and steered using a magnetic field. Corkscrew-like shape can help to propel them and keep them in place while they’re used either to inject a drug or deliver another type of therapy.
These nanopropellers have so far been tried only on models of the eye and there’s still lots of work to be done to make them actually deliver a therapeutic.
Here’s an animation describing the manufacturing process of nano-scale devices of various shapes: