Patients with persistent epithelial defect who haven’t responded to traditional treatment may benefit from a matrix regenerating agent (RGTA), according to a new study published in the Journal of Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

A team of Turkish researchers enrolled 21 patients (23 eyes) who had persistent epithelial defect, despite being treated with conventional therapy. The subjects in the study represented a variety of ocular conditions including, lagophthalmos, neurotrophic ulcer, chemical burn, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, atopic keratoconjunctivitis, severe dry eye, peripheral ulcerative keratitis, fungal keratitis and bacterial keratitis.

The investigators treated patients with one drop of RGTA (cacicol; Théa Labs, Paris)—a matrix therapy designed to restructure and protect corneal tissue and chronic corneal disorders— on alternate days. Researchers evaluated the patients by slit lamp exam, anterior segment photography and fluorescein dye testing. The investigators noted the ulcer areas on alternate days starting from the first day of treatment.

The study reported 20 of the 23 eyes (86.9%) showed complete corneal healing, on average, after a week. Additionally, the investigators found ulcers continued to decrease in size at a consistent rate, from 61.2% on the second day of treatment up to 85.5% on the tenth day. Researchers noted that, on any postoperative day, no significant differences were found in the epithelialization speed between eyes that wore bandage contact lenses and those that did not. Additionally, study results found no treatment-related local or systemic side effects from the alternative drop RGTA therapy.

“RGTA seems to be an effective therapeutic alternative in the treatment of persistent corneal epithelial defects,” researchers said.

While not yet approved in the US, the usual dosage of RGTA is one to two drops a week until healing is achieved.

Sevik MO, Turhan SA, Toker E. Topical treatment of persistent epithelial defects with a matrix regenerating agent. J Ocul Pharmacol Ther. Oct. 12, 2018. (E-pub, ahead of print).