AsianScientist (Jun. 13, 2019) – In a study published in Biofabrication, a research group in South Korea has developed a method to 3D print an artificial cornea.
When a person has a severely damaged cornea, a corneal transplant is required. However, waiting times for a suitable cornea donation can be six years or more. For this reason, many scientists have put their efforts into developing an artificial cornea. The existing artificial cornea uses recombinant collagen or is made of chemical substances such as synthetic polymer. Therefore, it does not integrate well with the eye, nor is it transparent after being implanted.
In this study, researchers led by Professor Cho Dong-Woo, Professor Jang Jinah and Ms. Kim Hyeonji at Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), South Korea, 3D printed an artificial cornea using bio-ink made of decellularized corneal stroma and stem cells. Because the artificial cornea is made of corneal tissue-derived bio-ink, it is biocompatible, which means that it does not trigger an immune reaction when implanted. Furthermore, 3D cell printing technology recapitulates the corneal microenvironment to achieve transparency similar to that of the human cornea.
During the 3D printing process, when the bio-ink is being passed through the nozzle, frictional force causes shear stress in the printed material. By regulating the shear stress, the researchers were able to control the pattern of collagen fibrils being printed, mimicking the lattice pattern of the human cornea to achieve high transparency.
“Our suggested strategy can achieve the criteria for both transparency and safety of engineered cornea stroma. We believe it will give hope to many patients suffering from cornea related diseases,” said Jang.
Source: Pohang University of Science and Technology. Photo: Pohang University of Science and Technology.
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