How an artificial cornea made of pig cells can restore sight

Worldwide, 12.7 million people are waiting for a corneal transplant due to corneal failure, disease or damage, thus avoiding blindness. Due to its high cost and lack of donors, it is estimated that only one in 70 people will be eligible for the surgery. But a new solution may appear, based on a new type of implant.

artificial cornea

Results of a pilot study published in the journal Nature Biotechnology are encouraging. Researchers at Linköping University in Sweden have created and implanted an artificial cornea using collagen proteins from pig skin. A total of twenty people with keratoconus, an eye disease that causes progressive deformation of the cornea and loss of vision, participated in the experiment.

Surgeons make an incision in the patient’s cornea to insert the implant. “Intra-stroma (laser) surgery is suture-free and leaves the corneal nerves and cell layers intact, promoting rapid wound healing,” the researchers explained. It is a less invasive method than has been done so far i.e. corneal replacement.

global technology

consequences ? Of the 20 patients, fourteen of them had at least partially restored their sight and three had a visual acuity of 20/20. “We have done our best to ensure that our invention is widely available and affordable to everyone, not just the wealthy. This is why this technology can be used anywhere in the world,” explains Mehrdad Raafat, one of the study’s authors.

Before obtaining marketing authorization, researchers will have to conduct new studies with a larger panel.

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