Scientists In The UK 3D Printed Human Corneas To Cure Blindness

Scientists In The UK 3D Printed Human Corneas To Cure Blindness

Scientists at Newcastle University, UK, have 3D printed the first real human corneas in the world. That's unbelievable news since today, there' s a significant shortage of corneas available for transplant. This printing technique could be used in the future to ensure an unlimited supply of corneas.

The cornea is the outermost layer of the human eye. It plays a vital role in focusing vision. Statistics demonstrate that there are currently ten million people worldwide requiring surgery to prevent corneal blindness as a result of diseases like trachoma, an infectious eye disorder. On top of this, there are an additional five million people who suffer total blindness because of corneal scarring caused by burns, lacerations, abrasion or disease.

Published in Experimental Eye Research is the report on how stem cells (human corneal stromal cells) from a healthy donor cornea were mixed with alginate and collagen to create a solution which could be printed, a ‘bio-ink.’ The bio-ink was extruded in concentric circles in order to form the shape of a human cornea by using a simple, low-cost 3D bio-printer. The whole printing procedure takes only over five minutes.

Scientists In The UK 3D Printed Human Corneas To Cure Blindness

Dr Steve Swioklo with Prof Che Connon (right) holding up a printed cornea

Che Connon, Professor of Tissue Engineering at Newcastle University, who led the work, said: “Many teams across the world have been chasing the ideal bio-ink to make this process feasible. Our unique gel - a combination of alginate and collagen - keeps the stem cells alive while producing a material which is stiff enough to hold its shape but soft enough to be squeezed out the nozzle of a 3D printer. This builds upon our previous work in which we kept cells alive for weeks at room temperature within a similar hydrogel. Now we have a ready to use bio-ink containing stem cells allowing users to start printing tissues without having to worry about growing the cells separately.”

This study also showed that they could build a cornea to match a patient’s unique specifications. All they need to do is scan a patients eyes, then use the data to print a cornea which matched the size and shape rapidly.

This is another mind-blowing discovery of science that improve our lives in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago. These artificial corneas could restore eyesight to millions of blind or partially blind people once they perfect the technology. A corneal transplant can give someone back the gift of sight which is utterly amazing!

Scientists In The UK 3D Printed Human Corneas To Cure Blindness

Dr Steve Swioklo with Prof Che Connon (right) watch as the cornea is being printed

Dr. Neil Ebenezer, director of research, policy, and innovation at Fight for Sight also said: “We are delighted at the success of researchers at Newcastle University in developing 3D printing of corneas using human tissue. This research highlights the significant progress that has been made in this area, and this study is important in bringing us one step closer to reducing the need for donor corneas, which would positively impact some patients living with sight loss. However, it is important to note that this is still years away from potentially being available to patients and it is still vitally important that people continue to donate corneal tissue for transplant as there is a shortage within the UK.”

Reference: Newcastle University Press Office, Educate Inspire Change

Scientists In The UK 3D Printed Human Corneas To Cure Blindness Scientists In The UK 3D Printed Human Corneas To Cure Blindness Reviewed by Katerina Papakyriakopoulou on 8:10 AM Rating: 5

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