No, it’s not a miracle, it’s the magic of science. Thanks to implants made from pig collagen, fourteen blind people have been restored. Three of them even regained 20/20 visual acuity after the operation. Thanks to this new technology, which is less invasive and easy to access, corneal transplantation can finally be democratized worldwide.
There are approximately 12.7 million people worldwide waiting for a corneal transplant. However, due to the lack of donors, only 1 in 70 people can benefit from it. The cornea is the transparent, round part that covers the iris of the eye. It is she who transmits light to the lens and retina, which allows for good vision. Certain diseases such as keratoconus alter the regularity of the cornea, causing it to thin and gradually deteriorate vision, even blindness.
In order to restore sight to as many people as possible without relying on human donations the researchers considered this bioengineering solution. In their study published in the scientific journal nature biotechnologymembers of the research team from Linköping University in Sweden explain how they were able to grow a cornea that resembles a human cornea from collagen proteins from pig skin.
As part of this study, twenty patients were selected in India and Iran, two countries where corneal blindness is devastating, the site explains. Futura Science. Their two-year follow-up showed corneal thickening, and all participants in the clinical trial regained better visual acuity.
Concretely, the operation consists of a small incision in the patient’s cornea into which the biomaterial is inserted. Therefore, it is no longer necessary to remove the patient’s cornea in advance, as was the case until now. So this less invasive process is faster and safer.
Not only is the transplant process simpler than the human cornea, but in addition, these artificial corneas can be mass-produced. Until now, human corneas had to be transplanted within two weeks, explains Neil Lagalle, a researcher at Linköping University in Sweden. The deadline has been extended to two years thanks to this new technology.
” The results show that it is possible to develop a biomaterial that meets all criteria for use as a human implant, which can be mass-produced and stored for up to two years. This allows us to overcome the lack of donated corneal tissue and access other treatments for eye diseases “.
So this technology can be widely accessed in order to restore sight to as many people as possible!
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