New drug boosts repair of cornea following surgery

Written by Alexandra Thompson

Researchers from Erciyes University School of Medicine (Turkey) have shown that a compound stimulates faster tissue repair of the cornea in keratoconus patients following surgery.

Researchers from Erciyes University School of Medicine (Turkey) have carried out a trial of drops of Cacicol® on 60 keratoconus patients for 3 days after corneal cross-linking surgery, to investigate if it improved repair of the cornea. Keratoconus is a rare condition resulting in the cornea bulging and distorting patients’ vision, and current treatment involves surgery, with initial recovery taking up to 3 days a full recovery up to months.

The researchers found that by day 2 post surgery, application of the drug, which encourages tissue repair by mimicking heparan sulfate, resulted in significant healing of the surgical wound compared with no drug — 83% significant healing versus only 13%. A shorter healing time is advantageous to patients as it decreases the risk of infections and corneal haze. “Faster healing is clinically important because that helps reduce the risk of complications after surgery,” said the study’s principal author Koray Gumus, MD, associate professor of ophthalmology at Erciyes University School of Medicine.

Furthermore, the compound also appeared to relieve eye pain, burning and light sensitivity following surgery, indicating that it could benefit the millions of patients who undergo corneal transplants and refractive surgery each year in terms of both recovery time and comfort.

Gumus commented on plans to investigate the regenerative pharmacological agent for other indications: “We hope to confirm in additional studies that Cacicol could also aid patients who undergo many types of corneal surgery each year.” Researchers are already investigating the compound for other ophthalmological conditions such as corneal ulcers where it might also encourage faster wound healing, and has been approved for use in Europe for corneal ulcers.