Researchers could be on the verge of discovering a new drug for keratoconjunctivitis (EKC) or the pink eye, as it is known popularly.
EKC is a severe disease of the eye, with symptoms such as keratitis, conjunctivitis, pain, and reduced vision that may last for months or years.
While keratitis is a condition in which the eye's cornea, the front part of the eye, becomes inflamed, conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the membranes lining the eyelids.
It is a highly infectious eye disease that may occur in 15 million to 20 million people annually in the United States alone. There are no vaccines or antiviral drugs available to prevent or treat EKC. Adenovir Pharma is developing the drug candidate in the form of eye drops for the problem.
Now Swedish researchers, associated with the firm, report an innovative new "molecular wipe" that sweeps up viruses responsible for EKC in ACS's Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.
The eye disease EKC is caused by adenoviruses which bind to a molecule on the surface of human corneal cells in the eye. The new drug candidate has been shown to prevent the virus from binding to and infecting these cells. The drug captures the disease-causing virus thereby preventing infection. One significant advantage of such a pharmaceutical is that it acts outside the cell, which minimizes the risk of developing viral resistance.
"The way the drug works can be compared with a molecular wipe that soaks up virus particles. In treating the early stages of the acute phase, you can remove the free viruses and new viruses that are forming thereby reducing symptoms, speeding up healing and avoiding effects such as impaired vision and the risk of infecting the patient's other eye or spreading the infection within families, schools and work places, "said Professor Niklas Arnberg at Umeċ University.
Prof Ulf Ellervik at the Lund University is hopeful of developing an effective drug to treat the painful eye condition based on the new discovery.