International partnership to investigate ocular drug delivery

Academics from UNSW Sydney and Uka Tarsadia University have formed a research partnership for drug delivery through contact lenses.
Yolande Hutchinson | UNSW Newsroom

Researchers at UNSW Sydney are collaborating with Uka Tarsadia University in India to investigate contact lenses as drug delivery systems to control, manage and treat various ocular diseases.

Professor Mark Willcox from UNSW’s School of Optometry and Vision Science was integral to establishing the partnership.

“We are delighted that the collaboration between UNSW and Uka Tarsadia University has been formalised and look forward to working together on research to develop therapeutic contact lenses that can help people in India, Australia and the world,” Prof. Willcox said.

“Ocular diseases are usually treated using eye drops, but unfortunately these often do not deliver enough drug or have the drug resident on the eye for long enough. Using contact lenses to deliver the drugs can overcome these problems and may be used to treat diseases such as glaucoma, dry eyes, conjunctivitis, myopia development and macular degeneration.”

The partnership involves staff and students from both universities going on exchange to work on the collaborative project. Academics will participate in research, co-supervise postgraduate students, and give lectures and tutorials in the research area. Students will have the opportunity to work alongside basic and clinical scientists in emerging areas of research in contact lenses, drug delivery and the ocular surface.

Dr Furqan Maulvi from Uka Tarsadia University’s Maliba Pharmacy College has published several key papers around contact lenses and drug delivery.

“I am excited and look forward to working with the team at UNSW to develop novel therapeutic contact lenses to treat various anterior and posterior eye diseases,” Dr Maulvi said.

Uka Tarsadia is a private university established in 2011. The affiliated Maliba Pharmacy College is the centre of collaboration with UNSW.

Dr Alex Hui from UNSW’s School of Optometry and Vision said: “The partnership will allow for complementary collaborations between engineers, pharmacists, optometrists and chemists. It comes at a critical time where research interest in managing diseases such as dry eye and myopia development is increasing both from clinicians and patients.”