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Newcastle University Researchers Successfully 3D Print Human Corneas from Stem Cell Bioink

Newcastle University Researchers Successfully 3D Print Human Corneas from Stem Cell Bioink

Human corneas have successfully been 3D printed for the first time by scientists at Newcastle University in England.

This proof-of-concept ticked all the boxes: the scientists were able to print out a cornea, as a series of concentric circles, in less than 10 minutes.

The university said that this procedure could tackle a significant shortage of corneas available to transplant and may benefit millions of people worldwide requiring corneal surgery to prevent blindness. The novel discovery has been made after mixing stem cells obtained from cornea of a healthy donor with a seaweed-derived gel, known as alginate and collagen, which helps form a bio ink solution for printing.

By creating a "bio-ink" using human corneal stromal cells mixed together with alginate and collagen, the researchers were able to print the corneas using a simple low-priced 3D bioprinter.

"This builds upon our previous work in which we kept cells alive for weeks at room temperature within a similar hydrogel".

The stem cells were then shown to grow meaning that the 10 million people globally needing corneal transplants have new hope. " 3D technology also allows them to adapt the shape and size of the cornea to the patient's eye".

Prof Connon said further testing needs to be done and could take "several years before we could be in the position where we are using them for transplants".

Newcastle University Biomedical Scientists and research leaders Stephen Swioklo (left) and Che Connon (right) and an Inkredible bioprinter from CELLINK. This incredible feat of engineering was achieved by researchers at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, who hope that their work can help relieve the serious shortage of corneas available for transplant.

The researchers say that their new creation may help over 15 million people who have gone blind or are at risk of losing their vision because of diseases, eye disorders or injuries.

The cornea also focuses the light entering the eyes, being responsible for 65 to 75 percent of the eye's total focusing power.

The unbelievable thing about the 3D-printed human corneas is that they can be custom made, notes the university.

The dimensions of the printed tissue were originally taken from an actual cornea.

The 3D-bioprinting method did not annul a need for cornea donations.

We won't be seeing the bio-ink used anytime soon, though.

A research team from the United Kingdom could help bring sight back to thousands who have cornea-related issues.

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