British scientists create human corneas using 3D printer

Science news 3D printed organs cornea

Researchers at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom have been the first to 3D-print human corneas, using a technique that could ensure an unlimited supply of corneas in the future.

However, the study's authors said it will likely take years for patients to actually start receiving 3D-printed corneas. The Newcastle team hopes their 3D printed cornea options can reduce the rates of transplant rejection.

The cornea, the membrane at the front of the eye, is essential in helping us focus properly, while also protecting our eyes from the outside world.

It's another marvel of three-dimensional printing, using stem cells, collagen, and a type of polysaccharide called alginate to create a so-called "bio-ink" that can be used to print a cornea.

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The researchers then utilized a low-priced 3D bio-printer to 3D print the first human corneas.

Che Connon, professor of tissue engineering at Newcastle University, who led the study, said: "Many teams across the world have been chasing the ideal bio-ink to make this process feasible".

The researchers previously used a similar hydrogel in an experiment to keep cells alive at room temperature for several weeks.

This 3d printing technique does not absolutely eliminate the need for cornea donations because those are essential for making the stem cell part of the recipe. By scanning the person's eye, they were able to use the data to print a cornea identical in size and shape.

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They used a mix of human corneal stromal (stem) cells harvested from donated healthy corneas, alginate, and collagen to create a firm but printable bio-ink. 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. Human corneas are now in short supply.

This bio-ink didn't just have to be thin but also had to be stiff enough that it could hold its shape as a 3D structure.

Scientists at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom produced human corneas. Few years the method could be ready for actual use by patients needing a corneal transplant. 3D bioprinting is an emerging technology that can be harnessed for the fabrication of biological tissue for clinical applications. Another five million patients have lost their vision due to cornea destruction due to burns, wounds, abrasions, etc.

How was the 3D-printed cornea created?

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