AUG 18, 2016
Scientists from Australia have grown corneal endothelial cells on a synthetic hydrogel film that they then implanted into sheep eyes where it completely biodegrades within 2 months, inducing no adverse immune reactions.
"Our ultimate aim is to use patients' own cells to regenerate them on the hydrogel films we have developed, and to implant them directly in the patient's cornea. Since it's their own cells we are using, there is no risk of disease transmission or tissue rejection,” said lead scientist Berkay Ozcelik
The 50-µm thick hydrogel film is perfectly transparent when implanted, allowing the endothelial cells to function properly. In a study published in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials, investigators report that slit lamp examinations and histology of the sheep corneas 28 days after implantation reveal minimal inflammatory responses and no toxicity.
"The other advantage of our technique even if you don't use patient's own cells, because we can regenerate and increase the number of a donor's cells in culture, we could use cornea material from one donor for maybe, say, 20 patients," Ozcelik added.
Researchers expect clinical trials to begin in 2017.