If you damage your cornea, The likelihood of finally getting a brand new one may have just risen.
Researchers at the University of Newcastle in England report that they have been able to reproduce human corneas with a 3D printer and a "biotin" stem cells from a donor cornea, alginate (a substance found in algae), and the protein collagen , They printed the cells in concentric circles in the shape of a cornea and then sat back to wait while the cornea grew. [7 Cool Uses of 3D Printing in Medicine]
"Our unique gel, a combination of alginate and collagen, keeps the stem cells alive while producing a material that is stiff enough to hold its shape, yet soft enough to escape from the nozzle of a 3D Printer to be squeezed out. " Che Connon, Professor of Tissue Engineering, who worked on the project, said in a statement:
The cornea is one of the outer layers of the eye, which both focus the light and protect the inner eye. If a person's cornea is damaged, this may lead to blurred vision or glare, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
The cornea can easily be transplanted from deceased donors without the compatibility issues that affect other organ transplants. (In corneal transplants, there is no need to find a "match" between the donor and the recipient.) But, as organ donors with healthy cornea are not very common and because of high demand, there is a donor corneal deficiency. For example, a 201
According to the paper published today (May 30) in the journal Experimental Eye Research, it will be published in August 2018. The 3D-printed corneas are not yet ready for implantation in humans. Researchers still need to make sure that human bodies do not reject them, that they fit properly, and that they work properly to focus light. That could take several years, at least before the first attempt at surgery, Connon said.
Originally published on Live Science .