Myopia (also known as nearsightedness) is a common eye disease, and it is also a major cause of blindness. High myopia (worse than -5 diopters) significantly increases the chance of getting serious complications including macular damage, retinal detachment, glaucoma, premature cataract and others, which can lead to blindness. Atropine is currently the only effective drug to slow down myopia progression; unfortunately, its side effects can be quite significant; patients’ pupils are dilated, and it not only causes photophobia but also increases the photo-damage to the eyes, especially the retina region, from elevated UV light exposure.
Our team has identified microRNA-328 (miR-328) as a key risk factor for myopia. Consequently, suppression of over-expressed miR-328 is a reasonable approach to treat myopia. We have designed an effective anti-sense to “neutralize” over-expressed miR-328, and the anti-sense is delivered as eyedrop to successfully treat myopia in mice and rabbits. More importantly, our anti-sense is more effective than atropine in animal studies. The safety studies show that our novel eyedrop does not cause any side effect in the eyes or in the body. In addition, our eyedrop does not dilate the pupil. This invention is particularly important for the Asian population who are high risk for myopia.