According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, glaucoma affects more than 3 million Americans — and is a leading cause of blindness worldwide.
Collaboration by Khalid Lafdi, University of Dayton Wright Brothers Endowed Chair in Nanomaterials, and UD alumnus Edward Timm, CEO of Mobius Therapeutics LLC, may provide relief.
A “fuzzy fiber” developed by Lafdi at the University of Dayton Research Institute was originally intended for multi-purpose use in aircraft coatings, wind turbines and other large-scale commercial applications. However, the highly tailored carbon material is highly biocompatible and has led to two patents for a medical drainage device mainly for glaucoma treatment. It could also be used for drainage in the ears, brain or chest, or to provide long-term access to larger veins or arteries.
“The ‘fuzzy fiber’ is a scaffold of carbon covered with surface-treated carbon nanotubes grown in a highly controlled manner,” Lafdi explained. “That’s what gives the material its fuzzy appearance.”
Using this technology, Lafdi and Timm created biocompatible, non-clogging drainage tubes to relieve excess fluid and pressure in the eye. The choice of material is significant. Other devices for glaucoma treatment use silicone tubes, which must be replaced in most patients because they become encapsulated with naturally occurring growth cells called fibroblasts, inhibiting their ability to drain fluid. The new material, however, overcomes that limitation.
“Multiple tests demonstrated that, in the presence of tailored carbon nanotubes, there was zero cell growth. But when I coated the same carbon scaffold with silicone, there was cell proliferation. An absolute invasion,” Lafdi said.
According to Timm, use of the material in glaucoma treatment is revolutionary.
“There’s nothing else like it out there. The current ‘gold standard’ material — silicone — actually stimulates fibroblast growth. It is not just an improper material for such implants; it is exactly the wrong material. Not only is the carbon material completely biocompatible, eliminating the risk for rejection by the body, it will also serve to preserve the longevity of the implant by keeping it from becoming blocked with tissue,” Timm said. “I believe this could completely change the thought process in the design of future ophthalmic devices.”
Mobius is negotiating nonexclusive rights to the coating with multiple parties at this time, according to Timm.