Researchers at Newcastle University have this week revealed they have been able to 3D print the very first human corneas. The cornea is the outermost layer of the human eye and has an important role in focusing vision. Unfortunately, there are a significant shortage of corneas available to transplant, with 10 million people worldwide requiring surgery to prevent corneal blindness as a result of diseases such as trachoma, an infectious eye disorder.
The new technology is hoping to help reduce this deficit and uses a simple low-cost 3D bio-printer to create the human corneas on demand. Watch the video below to learn more about the process which uses a bio-ink extruded in concentric circles to form the shape of a human cornea, the whole 3D print process takes less than 10 minutes.
Che Connon, Professor of Tissue Engineering at Newcastle University, who led the work, said: “Many teams across the world have been chasing the ideal bio-ink to make this process feasible. Our unique gel – a combination of alginate and collagen – keeps the stem cells alive whilst producing a material which is stiff enough to hold its shape but soft enough to be squeezed out the nozzle of a 3D printer. This builds upon our previous work in which we kept cells alive for weeks at room temperature within a similar hydrogel. Now we have a ready to use bio-ink containing stem cells allowing users to start printing tissues without having to worry about growing the cells separately.”
For more information on the human cornea 3D printing process and research jump over to the official Newcastle University website by following the link below.
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