One driving tenet of Traditional Chinese Medicine is how we seek to treat the root of the problem, not the symptoms. This is a large component of preventative care; restoring and maintaining a person’s health as opposed to administering care that won’t stop a recurring health condition. Researchers at the University of Virginia are adopting this approach for a new dry eye medication, that plans to revolutionize the way dry eyes are treated.
This new drug, Lacripep, is designed to go straight to the main cause of dry eye unlike current treatments, most of which suppress general inflammation of the eye. They generally offer mixed results. This new approach plans to eliminate inflammatory triggers by restoring the natural basal tearing mechanism and health of cells in contact with tears.
“Most ophthalmic drugs are washed away right away, but that’s not the case here. Lacripep is still in the tears 24 hours later, because it goes into the lipid layer and apparently comes out of the lipid layer slowly to treat the eye,” said Gordon Laurie, UVA dry eye research specialist of the UVA School of Medicine’s Department of Cell Biology.
Current treatments look to treat hormonal imbalances, malfunctioning aqueous tear production or lipid production, and only mask the real underlying problem by doing so. Lacripep is pitched as the first of its kind to address the major issue – a shortage of the tear protein lacritin. Clinical trials with the drug are scheduled to begin in March 2017, and Laurie remains hopeful of its prospects: “With lacritin deficient in dry-eye tears, topical Lacripep is a replacement therapy, which will probably not cure the disease. You would still have to keep treating your eyes, but maybe just once a day.”
While there’s no data to analyse as yet, it’s a promising notion that would no doubt provide a lot of relief for many Americans. The American Academy of Ophthamology estimates that 3.2 million women and 1.68 million men over the age of 50 are affected by dry eye.
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