Scientists have just recently been able to successfully 3D print a human eye. The 3D-printed corneas will help with the large spread problem of shortage for transplants.
3D Printed Human Corneas
According to the story by US News, scientists coming from the United Kingdom have been able to successfully 3D print human corneas for the very first time.
Corneas are the outermost layer of a human's eye and are very important for focusing vision. Sadly, almost five million people suffer total blindness due to scarring in the corneal caused by lacerations, burns, abrasion, or disease, as per researchers at Newcastle University. Up to 10 million people around the world require surgery to stop corneal blindness from diseases like trachoma, a particularly infectious eye disease, which has led to a severe shortage when it comes to corneas that are available for transplant.
Scientists on Corneal Transplants
As per EuropePMC, scientists announced the development in a press release. To add, they said that corneal transplant constitutes one of the leading treatments for severe cases of loss of corneal function.
The scientists noted that the successful 3D printing of one's human cornea could be used someday to ensure an unlimited supply of corneas will be made available. Researchers from the university worked by mixing stem cells from a healthy donor cornea along with alginate and collagen to create a printable solution for the 3D printer.
Scientists Developed Bio-Ink
The researchers on the project called the solution "bio-ink," which had successfully printed out in concentric circles shaping a cornea in just under ten minutes. The researchers were able to see the cells grow.
The professor of tissue engineering at the university and lead researcher Che Cannon noted that many people have been chasing the "ideal bio-ink" to accomplish the process. The professor explained that the unique gel would help keep the corneal stem cells alive as a matter that remains stiff enough to retain its shape while also being soft enough to squeeze out of the printer's nozzle.
Printed Human Corneas
Aside from accomplishing the printed human cornea, scientists have also shown that they are indeed capable of building a cornea to match a patient's unique specifications. With that, by taking dimensions directly from a patient's cornea scans themselves, scientists will be able to use data to print a cornea matching both its shape and size.
Cannon noted in the release that the printed corneas still need further testing and that it will be a few years before they will be usable for transplant. However, successful printing has shown that it is feasible to print corneas through coordinates taken from a patient eye to help combat the global shortage.
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Written by Urian B.