Discoveries & Medical Breakthroughs

Dipyridamole Eye Drops for Dry Eye Disease - A Breakthrough Discovery

After working for more than a decade with researchers at Penn State University on various new uses for the opiate antagonist naltrexone, we were developing the use of naltrexone to treat certain types of dry eye conditions.

Testing a Different Theory

My colleagues suggested a theory of how this drug was working for dry eye conditions. However, in my opinion the theory didn’t match the known behavior of this drug at the low doses being used.

To clarify which theory was correct, I looked for an alternative drug to test that, based on its related mode of action at very low dose levels, would have similar results. I had been working with one such drug, the heart medication dipyridamole, in cancer patients. Dipyridamole had been in use already for close to 60 years and there was a huge body of evidence to demonstrate its safety and use for treating a wide range of non-eye disorders.

Following my work, the head of an oncology department of a large hospital was currently prescribing naltrexone drops for bone-marrow-transplant related dry eye with reasonably good success. Seeking to improve the results even further, I proposed he try these new dipyridamole eye drops instead. Having ascertained the safety of the dipyridamole eye drops, we further analyzed and optimized the use and dosage levels of dipyridamole.

Effective Relief for Dry Eye

Subsequently some of the patients using the naltrexone drops switched to dipyridamole drops. In line with my theory, they reported a much greater beneficial effect and were able to discontinue the use of their eye lubricating drops. This was the birth of a breakthrough discovery for treating dry eye. As the volume of data and evidential experience from patients using these drops grew, I made some surprising discoveries of additional benefits.