Sep, 2022 - By WMR
Researchers created an implant from collagen protein harvested from pig’s skin that resembles the cornea in human and in a pilot study, it was found to restore vision of 20 people with affected corneas.
A team of scientists at Linkoping University have developed a new bioengineered cornea implant from collagen protein taken from skin of pig and in a pilot study this new implant was found to restore vision in 20 volunteers out of which 14 were completely blind. With further testing, this novel implant is likely to enhance vision in millions of people across the globe that are expecting high cost and complex cornea transplant surgeries.
Several individuals across the globe suffer from diseased or damaged cornea each year. When the outer layer of tissue that surrounds the eye starts degenerating, it can affect or compromise vision of an individual easily. However, there is a huge lack of donors for cornea due which transplantation of cornea is difficult and rare.t Thus, in the new study, the team of researchers developed cornea implants without human donor tissue. In earlier studies, biosynthetic corneas were explored as an alternative however, these studies require human collagen grown in a lab and which is molded into cornea shape. In this study, the researchers used medical-grade collagen gathered from skin of pig to create these implants, as this is a cost-effective and eco-friendly collagen source. With advanced engineering, the researchers can even store these bioengineered corneas for nearly two years.
The researchers also demonstrated a novel method for implanting these new cornea implant, which does not require removal of pre-existing cornea, unlike traditional methods. It only requires a small suture for inserting this implant. In a pilot trial, the researchers tested the new implant in 20 volunteers where it was found to restore their vision without any harmful side effects. Even with the positive results of this pilot trial, it requires bigger trials to bring this new implant in medical use.