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.
The cornea is a vital part of human vision; it acts as the transparent outer layer of the eyeball, refracting and bending light in order to focus eyesight.
Another 5 million people already suffer total blindness from corneal scarring caused by burns, lacerations, abrasion or disease, the researchers added.
There, researchers mixed stem cells from the cornea of a healthy donor with collagen and algae molecules to create a bio-ink, which they 3D-printed into an artificial cornea. Connonsaid in a statement that the printed corneas will have to undergo several years of testing before they become a viable transplant option.
"Many teams across the world have been chasing the ideal bio-ink to make this process feasible", study co-author Professor Che Connon said in a statement. Human corneas are now in short supply. Prof. Connon noted that there is a shortage of human corneas available for transplant around the world. It prints out layers of "bio-ink", building them up in concentric circles, to form a cornea-shaped scaffolding. But this research is a validation that you can 3D print something that looks like a cornea and contains mostly the same ingredients. However, there has been a significant shortage of corneas available for transplant in recent years. According to the World Health Organisation, corneal blindness is the fourth leading cause of blindness globally, so it's pretty worrying to note there's now a transplant shortage in the UK. From this test, they were able to identify a process that allowed cells to grow within a bioink solution. Connon adds that they are not alone in their research, with many teams now engaged in creating bio-inks for creating 3D printed corneas.
The incredibly freakish achievement was revealed to the word in the science journal Experimental Eye Research.
It appears that this stem cell bioink was 3D printed on the Inkredible 3D printer by CELLINK, which is known as the first bioprinter with clean chamber technology.
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