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Pharmacy students help boost research to ease eye problems associated with cystinosis

Three final-year pharmacy students from the University of Sunderland who helped test a range of drugs to treat eye problems in patients suffering from a rare genetic disease have showcased their results at an international conference.

Front row: pharmacy students Marina Mankarous, Chloe Auckland and Chee Khaw

Front row (left to right): pharmacy students Marina Mankarous, Chloe Auckland and Chee Khaw

Chee Khaw, Marina Mankarous and Chloe Auckland assisted PhD student Lisa Frost in investigating eye problems associated with cystinosis, a disease that occurs when the body’s mechanism to remove the amino acid cysteine breaks down. If left untreated, the inherited illness can result in kidney failure before a child reaches the age of 10. One of the effects of the disease is the build up of cysteine crystals in the eyes, which causes pain, discomfort and photophobia.

The research was showcased at the Cystinosis Research Network (CRN) international conference in San Francisco in July and, recently, at the UK’s CRN conference, alongside work pharmaceutical scientists are carrying out at Sunderland to improve drug treatment and to learn more about the disease.

Roz Anderson, professor of pharmaceutical chemistry at Sunderland, who is leading the research, said: “[Patients who have cystinosis] often have to endure eye drops every hour, which stings. The effects also do not last very long. The current medication oxidises very quickly, even if it’s stored in the fridge, [so] it’s not very efficient.”

“Lisa has designed and made some prodrugs for ocular use and the three students have been looking at different aspects of those drugs, helping us to select which ones have the best properties that we can take forward for clinical trials,” she added.

Ms Mankarous, from Canada, has been screening the drugs for toxicity; Mr Khaw, from Malaysia, has been investigating their absorption properties; and Ms Auckland, from Barnsley, has been assessing the stability of the drugs under different conditions.

 

Citation: Tomorrow's Pharmacist URI: 11087397

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Supplementary images

  • Front row: pharmacy students Marina Mankarous, Chloe Auckland and Chee Khaw

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