By utilizing human cells scientists at the Newcastle University in the U.K. successfully 3D printed the most advanced version of an artificial cornea to date, a development that has revolutionary potential for people struggling to see. A jelly-like gel called alginate, stem cells extracted from donor corneas, along with some collagen proteins, were added together in order to create a bio-ink thin enough and sturdy enough to work as a 3D structure. This new technique has the ability to take cells from one donated cornea and print 50 artificial ones, an innovation that could have massive implications moving forward into the future.
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 5 million people around the world are blind due to infection scarring their corneas. Professor Che Connon, Cornea Team Research Leader says: “Our 3D printed corneas will now have to undergo further testing and it will be several years before we could be in the position where we are using them for transplants.”
Dr Neil Ebenezer, director of research, policy and innovation at Fight for Sight, said: “We are delighted at the success of researchers at Newcastle University in developing 3D printing of corneas using human tissue. He further added: “A corneal transplant can give someone back the gift of sight.”
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This significant innovative development has the potential to impact millions of people globally. It is not a paradigm changer at this moment, but the potential is there once the clinical trials are completed.
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