Thermally-Responsive Loading and Release of Elastin-Like Polypeptides from Contact Lenses

Contact lenses are widely prescribed for vision correction, and as such they are an attractive platform for drug delivery to the anterior segment of the eye. This manuscript explores a novel strategy to drive the reversible adsorption of peptide-based therapeutics using commercially available contact lenses. To accomplish this, thermo-sensitive elastin-like polypeptides (ELPs) alone or tagged with a candidate ocular therapeutic were characterized. For the first time, this manuscript demonstrates that Proclear CompatiblesTM contact lenses are a suitable platform for ELP adsorption. Two rhodamine-labelled ELPs, V96 (thermo-sensitive) and S96 (thermo-insensitive), were employed to test temperature-dependent association to the contact lenses. During long-term release into solution, ELP coacervation significantly modulated the release profile whereby more than 80% of loaded V96 retained with a terminal half-life of ~4 months, which was only 1-4 days under solubilizing conditions. A selected ocular therapeutic candidate lacritin-V96 fusion (LV96), either free or lens-bound LV96, was successfully transferred to HCE-T cells. These data suggest that ELPs may be useful to control loading or release from certain formulations of contact lenses and present a potential for this platform to deliver a biologically active peptide to the ocular surface via contact lenses.