The cornea is a transparent external lens of the eye that serves a protective wall to keep out foreign particles and refracts light. Damage to this layer can trigger partial or total loss of sight.
So scientists at Newcastle University have developed a human cornea through a 3D printer for the very first time– an accomplishment that can eventually aid millions of individuals throughout the world who have corneal blindness.
The work was published in the journal Experimental Eye Research earlier in May. To produce 3D printed corneas, scientists needed to create an ink that’s thin enough to be pushed through a 3D printer’s nozzle and at the same time, it ought to be stiff enough to hold its shape.
Creating this composition was rather challenging, so they combined human stem cells from a healthy donor with collagen and alginate — a gooey substance gotten from algae to produce “bio-ink” for the 3D bio- printer.
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It took less than six minutes for the gadget to print off a model of the cornea based upon a scan of an individual’s eye by spraying in concentric circles. After printing, the stem cells were added and left to grow to around the structure developed by alginate and collagen — leading to the world’s first 3D printed human cornea.
However, these synthetically created corneas have a long way to go and need approvals before they might be transplanted into the human eye. But it is a considerable breakthrough as ten million people around the world need to undergo corneal blindness surgical treatment and the number of corneal tissue donors is rather less. So the creation of synthetic corneas can potentially combat this worldwide scarcity.