Blind World Magazine

Encapsulated Cell Technology (ECT)--A New Drug Delivery System.

by Dan Roberts,
Macular Degeneration Support.
February 2006

A means of delivering drugs into the retina on a time release basis has been developed and proven safe and effective. It is achieved by a device called Encapsulated Cell Technology (ECT), being tested by Neurotech SA with support from the National Eye Institute (NEI), Bethesda, Maryland.

Neurotech has just completed testing the ECT in Phase I trials and is now entering Phase II. One eye in each of 10 patients with retinitis pigmentosa was implanted with the device for six months. During that time, a drug called ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) was released by the device into the vitreous of the patient's eyes. CNTF is a protein that is excreted into the vitreous by the device. CNTF is produced by genetically modified cells contained in the ECT. The ECT acts, therefore, like a miniature factory for production and distribution of the drug. The device may prove to be a safer, more effective and more convenient drug delivery system than the injection procedure currently used for administration of the antiangiogenic and inflammatory drugs in wet MD patients.

Results from Phase I showed not only that the ECT device works and is safe, but that CNTF is a potentially effective drug treatment for slowing down all forms of hereditary retinal diseases by its trophic action on nerve cells. Trophic factors are molecules that can protect nerve cells from degeneration. When treated with CNTF, subjects showed an improvement in acuity of one line compared to no improvement in the partner eye. This is promising for people with ophthalmic diseases such as dry macular degeneration.

End of article.

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