Modulating release of ranibizumab and aflibercept from thiolated chitosan-based hydrogels for potential treatment of ocular neovascularization

<p><b>Background</b>: This paper describes the synthesis of thiolated chitosan-based hydrogels with varying degrees of crosslinking that has been utilized to modulate release kinetics of two clinically relevant FDA-approved anti-VEGF protein drugs, ranibizumab and aflibercept. These hydrogels have been fabricated into disc shaped structures for potential use as patches on ocular surface.</p> <p><b>Methods</b>: Protein conformational changes and aggregation after loading and release was evaluated by circular dichroism (CD), steady-state tryptophan fluorescence spectroscopy, electrophoresis and size-exclusion chromatography (SEC). Finally, the capacity of both released proteins to bind to VEGF was tested by ELISA and surface plasmon resonance (SPR) technology.</p> <p><b>Results</b>: The study demonstrates the versatility of thiolated chitosan-based hydrogels for delivering proteins. The effect of various parameters of the hydrogel on protein release kinetics and mechanism of protein release was studied using the Korsmeyer-Peppas release model. Furthermore, we have studied the stability of released proteins in detail while comparing it with non-entrapped proteins under physiological conditions to understand the effect of formulation conditions on protein stability.</p> <p><b>Conclusions</b>: The disc-shaped thiolated chitosan-based hydrogels provide a potentially useful platform to deliver ranibizumab and aflibercept for the treatments of ocular diseases such as wet AMD, DME and corneal neovascularization</p>