Australian researchers are on their way to cure blindness using an innovative cornea farming method for corneal transplant.
A team of Australian researchers have developed a revolutionary cornea treatment that can eliminate the need for tissue donors before a corneal transplant.
In the traditional sense, a corneal transplant surgery is the replacement of a damaged or ill cornea with a donated one, usually from a dead person. And just like the issue with organ transplants, the world is running low on cornea donors. To make the operation even harder, once a proper match is found and implanted into its new host’s eye, the body might reject it, and ending up killing the new organ. Cell rejection is the reason one-third of corneal transplants are unsuccessful.
The researchers from Melbourne University and the Center for Eye Research have developed a method to grow corneas using a hydrogel film. The groundbreaking technique uses cells from a patient’s very own eye to grow a new cornea his body won’t reject.
The super thin hydrogel film is even thinner than a human hair, and allows water to travel from the eye to the cornea and back. After being inserted to the eye by a small incision, it will dissolve and disappear within a few weeks, and leave the new cornea in place.
So far the farmed corneal transplants have been very successful in animal trials, with hopes of human trials to start in 2017. If successful, this can bring back vision to millions around the world.