The cornea is the outermost layer of the human eye which is now possible to be produced in an unlimited supply with the intelligent efforts of scientists. Yes, you just read it right. The Professor of Tissue Engineering Che Connon and his team of experts at Newcastle University made it possible to produce 3D printed corneas with their mix of intelligence and expertise with science and technology. This can help almost five million people who suffer a situation of total blindness due to a scarring of the cornea that is usually caused by burns, lacerations, abrasion or a serious disease.
How is the 3D cornea made?
The scientists of Newcastle University thinks that since ages many such teams of scientists from various parts of the world have been trying to hunt the ideal bio-ink to make the process of inventing 3D corneas possible. But these scientists of Newcastle University have become the first one to do so. These experts say that the creation of a unique gel, which is a mixture of alginate and collagen, keeps the stem cells of this 3D cornea alive. Moreover, the production of a certain material helps the 3D cornea to maintain its shape while remaining soft. This technology has helped them to maintain the cells of the cornea’s longevity for at least four weeks at the room temperature. They also boast the possession of a bio-ink containing stem cells that will help the users to print its tissues without getting into the hassle of growing the cells separately. Even the cornea can be built according to the specifications of the patient who requires it. At first, the necessary dimensions are taken from the original cornea and then this data is used to print a cornea with the same dimensions of the original one.
What is the significance of the human cornea and how can the 3D cornea help?
The cornea helps us to get a clear vision of all the things we see around us. It acts as a safeguard for the eye against grime and harmful bacteria and the fact that it acts as the eye’s main layer makes it even more vulnerable to injury. There are millions of people who suffer from corneal blindness and there’s already a huge paucity of these corneal cells for helping in transplantations. By using Connon’s 3D cornea, this complication can be slashed forever by providing a limitless supply of such 3D corneas.
The team of Che Connon published their findings in the journal named ‘Experimental Eye Research’ and said that the 3D printed corneas will encounter a series of further tests which might take a few several years more before this invention gets finally implemented for cornea transfers. For now, according to him, they have made the usage of acquiring the coordinates of the affected patient’s eye and printing corneas using these dimensions possible. He also believes that this approach has the potential to overcome the worldwide shortage of corneas that doctors and patients face during the transplant of corneas.