The human eye is a sensitive and highly complex organ with an anatomy and physiology that make it very difficult to accurately deliver diagnostic and therapeutic substances both onto and into the eyeball. Indeed, current drug delivery procedures either exhibit a very low level of efficiency and potential side effects or are barely practical for doctors and patients alike due to being highly invasive and hugely expensive. This is proving particularly problematic, making it very difficult for medics to harness the many huge advances that have been made in diagnostic and therapeutic processes over recent years. The MANTRA project was set up to overcome this obstacle and is being financially supported by the Thüringer Aufbaubank (Thuringia Reconstruction Bank) using EU funds. It is part of a collaborative undertaking entitled "Demonstration of magnetic drug delivery to the eye: Developing, establishing and testing magnetic field applicators for the targeted transportation of substances using magnetic nanoparticles". The project has attracted partners including Magnetworld AG and General Numerics Research Lab e.V., while Ilmenau University of Technology (TU Ilmenau) has a leading role, with junior professor Dr. Silvio Dutz tasked with coordinating the collaborative efforts.

The research focuses on a new basic technology that uses magnetic nanoparticles to deliver substances accurately into the eye and, for the first time, through tissue. During this procedure, the substances are fused to coated and functionalized magnetic nanoparticles and guided to their destination using applied magnetic fields. The aim of the project is to develop a demonstrator for the magnetic field applicator and prove the functional principle of the basic technology as part of a key experiment. To achieve this aim, the scientists must first determine the boundary conditions for the choice of magnetic nanoparticles and define the optimum spatial and temporal courses of the magnetic fields so that the findings thus gained can then be verified through experimentation.

TU Ilmenau Magnetworld AG (07745 Jena, Germany)