The tear film, which includes mucins that adhere to foreign particles, rapidly clears allergens and pathogens from the ocular surface, protecting the underlying tissues. However, the tear film’s ability to efficiently remove foreign particles during blinking can also pose challenges for topical drug delivery, as traditional eye drops (solutions and suspensions) are cleared from the ocular surface before the drug can penetrate into the conjunctival and corneal epithelium. In the past 15 years, there has been an increase in the development of nanoparticles with specialized coatings that have reduced affinity to mucins and are small enough in size to pass through the mucus barrier. These mucus-penetrating particles (MPPs) have been shown to efficiently penetrate the mucus barrier and reach the ocular surface tissues. Dry eye disease (DED) is a common inflammatory ocular surface disorder that often presents with periodic flares (exacerbations). However, currently approved immunomodulatory treatments for DED are intended for long-term use. Thus, there is a need for effective short-term treatments that can address intermittent flares of DED. Loteprednol etabonate, an ocular corticosteroid, was engineered to break down rapidly after administration to the ocular surface tissues and thereby reduce risks associated with other topical steroids. KPI-121 is an ophthalmic suspension that uses the MPP technology to deliver loteprednol etabonate more efficiently to the ocular tissues, achieving in animal models a 3.6-fold greater penetration of loteprednol etabonate to the cornea than traditional loteprednol etabonate ophthalmic suspensions. In clinical trials, short-term treatment with KPI-121 0.25% significantly reduced signs and symptoms of DED compared with its vehicle (placebo). Recently approved KPI-121 0.25%, with its novel drug delivery design and ease of use, has the potential to effectively treat periodic flares of DED experienced by many patients.
© The Author(s), 2021.