University of Illinois Leads Clinical Trial for New Severe Dry Eye Treatment

Dry Eye Trial

The University of Illinois at Chicago is leading a phase I/II clinical trial of a new enzyme-based treatment for severe dry eye disease experienced reduced signs of disease and discomfort, according to a recent paper published in Translational Vision Science and Technology.

The trial compared eye drops containing a biosynthetic form of enzyme called DNase with eye drops without the enzyme. DNase breaks up nucleic acid-based material on the surface of the eye.

As reported in Science Daily, drug eye disease the actual production of tears becomes dysregulated and the cornea becomes inflamed. Severe dry eye disease often accompanied by Sjogren’s syndrome and ocular graft-versus-host disease corneal tissue becomes incredibly painful and sensitive to light.

Dr. Sandeep Jain, professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine and principal investigator of the clinical trial noted “participants in the trial who use the drops with DNase reported less eye discomfort and their corneas healthier.” Previously, Jain and team uncovered that DNA strands form webs on the surface of eyes affected by severe dry eye disease. An inflammatory response, further irritating the eye, results.

The  team led a randomized, placebo-controlled phase I/II clinical trial enrolling 47 participants with severe dry eye disease.  Approximately half of the participants were diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome and 17% had graft-versus-host disease—both of which are associated with significant deficits in tear production. Forty one of the total participants completed the trial

Those that were in the DNase group had a statistically significant and clinically meaningful reduction in corneal damage at eight weeks compared with the placebo group.   DNase eye drops “may be safe and effective for treating severe dry eye and we look forward to conducting larger randomized trials to definitively prove its efficacy” reported professor Jain.  Currently approved for treating cystic fibrosis, DNase is still investigational for dry eye.

Lead Research/Investigator

Dr. Sandeep Jain, professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine