Purpose: To evaluate the efficacy of anti-VEGF agents for treating choroidal neovascularization (CNV) when delivered topically using novel cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) compared with delivery by intravitreal (ivit) injection.
Methods: CPP toxicity was investigated in cell cultures. Ivit concentrations of ranibizumab and bevacizumab after topical administration were measured using ELISA. The biological efficacy of topical anti-VEGF + CPP complexes was compared with ivit anti-VEGF injections using an established model of CNV.
Results: CPPs were nontoxic in vitro. In vivo, after topical eye drop delivery, CPPs were present in the rat anterior chamber within 6 minutes. A single application of CPP + bevacizumab eye drop delivered clinically relevant concentrations of bevacizumab to the posterior chamber of the rat eye in vivo. Similarly, clinically relevant levels of CPP + ranibizumab and CPP + bevacizumab were detected in the porcine vitreous and retina ex vivo. In an established model of CNV, mice treated with either a single ivit injection of anti-VEGF, twice daily CPP + anti-VEGF eye drops or daily dexamethasone gavage for 10 days all had significantly reduced areas of CNV when compared with lasered eyes without treatment.
Conclusions: CPPs are nontoxic to ocular cells and can be used to deliver therapeutically relevant doses of ranibizumab and bevacizumab by eye drop to the posterior segment of mouse, rat, and pig eyes. The CPP + anti-VEGF drug complexes were cleared from the retina within 24 hours, suggesting a daily eye drop dosing regimen. Daily, topically delivered anti-VEGF with CPP was as efficacious as a single ivit injection of anti-VEGF in reducing areas of CNV in vivo.