3D printed corneas
Nowadays 3D printing technology used in various sectors, especially in health. Last year, Switzerland researchers designed a 3D-printed soft artificial heart. Now, its turn to UK. Scientists from Newcastle University designed the first 3D printed corneas in a lab.
The plays an important role in focusing vision, also protecting our eyes from the outside world. Around 10 million people worldwide requiring surgery to prevent corneal blindness. However, the demand currently exceeds the supply. While, some people can donate their eyes after they die so it helps to control the demand of surgery.
To solve this crisis, researchers bring 3D printed corneas. In the lab, researchers collect a stem cells from a healthy donor cornea and mixed with composite hydrogel (alginate and collagen) to create a solution that could be printed a ‘bio-ink’.
Layers of bio-ink
Using 3D printer, researchers prints out layers of bio-ink, building them up in concentric circles, to form a cornea-shaped scaffolding. It took under 10 minutes to print.
Professor Che Connon, said, in previous work we kept stem cells for weeks at room temperature within a similar hydrogel. Now we will use bio-ink containing stem cells allowing users to start printing tissues without having to worry about growing the cells separately.
The scientists also exhibited that they could apply a cornea to match a patient’s unique specifications. While, the dimensions of the printed tissue initially taken from a original cornea. By scanning a patient’s eye, they could use the data to quickly print a cornea which coordinated the size and shape.
While, the 3D printed corneas are under further testing and it will take several years before we could use them for transplants. Scientists believe this research will save millions of people from blindness related to corneal damage along the way.