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Transl Vis Sci Technol. 2019 May 2;8(3):10. doi: 10.1167/tvst.8.3.10. eCollection 2019 May.

A Phase I/II Placebo-Controlled Randomized Pilot Clinical Trial of Recombinant Deoxyribonuclease (DNase) Eye Drops Use in Patients With Dry Eye Disease.

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Corneal Translational Biology Laboratory, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.
Center for Clinical and Translational Science, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.
Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.



To determine whether DNase eye drops have the potential to reduce signs and symptoms of dry eye disease (DED).


A placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial was performed to compare the safety and efficacy of DNase eye drops 0.1% four times a day for 8 weeks in patients with severe tear deficient DED. The change in safety outcome measures (drug tolerability and proportion of adverse events) and efficacy outcome measures (Ocular Surface Disease Index [OSDI] score, corneal and conjunctival staining) were analyzed between baseline and week 8.


Tolerability and adverse events were similar in placebo group and DNase group. Within the DNase group (but not placebo group), corneal staining showed a statistically significant and clinically meaningful reduction at week 8 compared with baseline. The OSDI score also showed a significant median reduction of 27.3 at week 8 compared with baseline within the DNase group. The median reduction in corneal staining and mucoid debris/strands was significantly greater in the DNase group as compared with the placebo group. In the DNase group, the median reduction in OSDI (-20.75) was more than placebo group (-8.43); however, the difference between groups was borderline significant.


In this pilot study, treatment of severe tear deficient DED patients with DNase eye drops appears safe, well tolerated, and has the potential to reduce the severity of signs and symptoms.

Translational Relevance:

Data from this pilot clinical trial demonstrate the therapeutic potential of DNase eye drops in dry eye disease, possibly due to degradation neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) from the ocular surface.


DNase; NETs; clinical trial; dry eye

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