Scientists in the UK have created the first three dimensional printed eye cornea. The technique opens the way so that in the future there will be an unlimited availability of corneas, which are the outer layer of the human eye, as today there is a lack of them for transplantation.
The publication was published in the journal Experimental Eye Research by a team of researchers at the University of Newcastle, headed by Professor Che Connon. The researchers used a low-cost bio-printer as well as bio-ink, which consists of stem cells from the donor of a healthy cornea, collagen and salts of alginic acids (derived from seaweed), thus producing a material hard enough to retain the shape but also soft enough to print.
The printing lasted about 10 minutes. Bio-ink was printed in concentric circles and gradually formed the shape of a cornea, and then the stem cells grown in normal tissue, which can be programmed in advance to have the exact dimensions of the patient’s eye.
These 3-D corneas will undergo several tests and are expected to take a few years before being used in transplants.
About ten million people around the world need surgery to replace the cornea to avoid blindness due to diseases such as trachea, an infectious disease. Another five million patients have lost their vision due to cornea destruction due to burns, wounds, abrasions, etc.