Researchers managed to produce a human cornea using a 3D printer. With the technology in the testing phase becoming viable, corneal transplants will no longer be a problem.
Today, 3D printing technology provides successful results in many fields, including medical applications. 3D printers can be used not only for tools and household products, but also for the preparation of food, medicine and prostheses. Researchers from the University of Newcastle have managed to create the world’s first true human corneas with a 3D printer.
The demand for corneal transplantation in the medical industry is large, but for those who want surgery, there is a very long waiting list. The team, who wanted to shorten these lists, took corneal stem cells from a healthy donor to create artificial corneas and mixed the sample with alginate and collagen. As a result, they obtained a ‘bio-ink’ that could be shaped into a cornea using a 3D bioprinter.
“Many teams around the world are trying to create the ideal bio-ink to make this process viable. Our special gels, a combination of alginate and collagen, are hard enough to retain their shape while keeping the stem cells alive. It creates a soft material that can be removed from a 3D printer. ” said.
Connon stated that the corneas produced by the team should be subjected to more tests and it may take several years before the technology becomes available in the transplant process. Studies show that it is possible to print the corneas using coordinates taken from the patient’s eye. Experts stressed that people should not cease to be donors because technology is still not developing.