Departamento de Farmacología, Farmacia y Tecnología Farmacéutica, R+D Pharma Group (GI-1645), Facultad de Farmacia and Health Research Institute of Santiago de Compostela (IDIS), Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, 15782 Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Electronic address: [Email]
Efficient ocular drug delivery that can overcome the challenges of topical application has been largely pursued. Contact lenses (CLs) may act as light-transparent cornea/sclera bandages for prolonged drug release towards the post-lens tear fluid, if their composition and inner architecture are fitted to the features of the drug molecules. In this review, first the foundations and advantages of using CLs as ocular drug depots are revisited. Then, pros and cons of common strategies to prepare drug-loaded CLs are analyzed on the basis of recent examples, and finally the main section focuses on bioinspired strategies that can overcome some limitations of current designs. Most bioinspired strategies resemble a reverse engineering process to create artificial receptors for the drug inside the CL network by mimicking the human natural binding site of the drug. Related bioinspired strategies are being also tested for designing CLs that elute comfort ingredients mimicking the blinking-associated renewal of eye mucins. Other bioinspired approaches exploit the natural eye variables as stimuli to trigger drug release or take benefit of bio-glues to specifically bind active components to the CL surface. Overall, biomimicking approaches are being revealed as valuable tools to fit the amounts loaded and the release profiles to the therapeutic demands of each pathology. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: Biomimetic and bioinspired strategies are remarkable tools for the optimization of drug delivery systems. Translation of the knowledge about how drugs interact with the natural pharmacological receptor and about components and dynamics of anterior eye segment may shed light on the design criteria for obtaining efficient drug-eluting CLs. Current strategies for endowing CLs with controlled drug release performance still require optimization regarding amount loaded, drug retained in the CL structure during storage, regulation of drug release once applied onto the eye, and maintenance of CL physical properties. All these limitations may be addressed through a variety of recently growing bioinspired approaches, which are expected to pave the way of medicated CLs towards the clinics.