Researchers create the first 3D-printed corneas

Researchers create the first 3D-printed corneas

The printed corneas will have to continue being tested for a few more years before they are deemed fit to be used for transplants.

Scientists have now developed a solution in the form of so-called bio-ink - a liquid mix of stem cells, collagen and alginate acid.

The authors claim that the new technique can be used in the future to provide unlimited donor corneas, the article says Science Daily.

Scientists at Newcastle University have printed the first 3D human corneas.

Che Connon, professor of tissue engineering at Newcastle University, who led the study, said: "Many teams across the world have been chasing the ideal bio-ink to make this process feasible". Using a low-priced bio-printer, the bio-ink was extruded in concentric circles to create a shape that mimics the human cornea, a process that took just 10 minutes. The outermost layer plays a protective role by preventing dust and other foreign material from entering the eye.

Professor John Snowden, director of blood and bone marrow transplantation at Sheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital, said: "We are thrilled with the results - they are a game changer for patients with drug resistant and disabling multiple sclerosis". "And the material needed to be stiff enough such that it holds it shape, allowing to build up a 3D cornea".

But there's some progress to be made before these artificial corneas even get close to a human eyeball.

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There, researchers mixed stem cells from the cornea of a healthy donor with collagen and algae molecules to create a bio-ink, which they 3D-printed into an artificial cornea.

A special camera was used by the researchers to image the eyeball of a volunteer from which a 3D model of their cornea was created.

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According to the paper, which was published online today (May 30) in the journal Experimental Eye Research, and will appear in the August 2018 issue, the 3D-printed corneas are not yet ready to implant in people.

"A corneal transplant can give someone back the gift of sight".

The stem cells were then shown to grow, the university added, allowing users to start printing tissues without having to grow the cells separately. By scanning a person's eye, the researchers say they are able to print a cornea to the proper dimensions in about 10 minutes.

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