A new eye drop made from human antibodies can cure patients suffering from dry eye.
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago are the first to make this discovery. A specific type of antibody, called anti-citrullinated protein autoantibodies, or ACPAs, is present in human tear fluid.
They are also the first to demonstrate that patients with dry eye disease experienced reduced signs and symptoms of the condition in response to a new eye drop treatment — made from human pooled antibodies — that targets ACPAs.The journal — The Ocular Surface has reported the findings from their early-stage clinical trial.
Abnormalities in tears cause dry eye disease. It results in dry areas over the cornea, the transparent outer layer of the eye. In the long run, it can lead to disabling eye pain and sensitivity to light in severe cases.
“The burden of autoimmune dry eye is much greater than just having an occasional feeling of dryness,” said Dr Sandeep Jain. He is the senior author of the study. He is also a UIC professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the College of Medicine.
“It can severely compromise the quality of life to the point of disability. It can further compromise a person’s vision,” added Dr Jain.
In previous research, Jain and his colleagues discovered that strands of DNA extrude from neutrophils. It is a type of white blood cell, to form webs on the surface of eyes affected by severe dry eye disease and cause inflammation.
In the new study, the researchers identified ACPAs as another cause of eye inflammation. Furthermore, it also contributes to the development of these webs, which Jain calls “a vicious cycle of inflammation.
The new eye drops treat dry eye disease by knocking the immune system out of this cycle, at least partially.
The doctors formulate the drops using pooled antibodies. The drops are made from immune globulins processed from the donated blood of thousands of individuals. All drops contain varied types of antibodies that counteract the negative effects of ACPAs.
The phase I/II drug trial compared the antibody-based eye drops with eye drops without the antibodies.
“Currently, Doctors have approved only two drugs to treat dry eye. Neither of these drugs works for everyone, especially those with severe disease. Therefore, having a new drug is very important. Especially, that can treat the disease by targeting a different mechanism, in this case, autoimmunity,” Jain said.
The researchers evaluated patients’ symptoms through questionnaires. Later they found that people using antibody-based eye drops had a statistically significant reduction. The reduction in corneal damage is meaningful at eight weeks compared with the control group.