Hyderabad scientists develop India’s first 3D-printed cornea | Hyderabad News

HYDERABAD: In a research gift to the nation on the 75th Independence Day, Hyderabad scientists have developed India’s first 3D-printed cornea and successfully tested it in a rabbit.
Though it may take years of further research before the 3D-printed cornea can be used in human beings, the success in the animal model provides the much needed hope to the people blinded due to corneal reasons. Developed from the human corneal tissue by teams from LV Prasad Eye Institute, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Hyderabad, and the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), the cornea is natural and does not involve any artificial material.
The “bio-ink” (raw material) for 3D printing was derived from human donor corneal tissue. What is interesting is that a bulk of the funds for the research came from philanthropists. According to the researchers, the 3D-printed cornea “is completely natural and it does not contain any synthetic components. Also, it is free of animal residues and can be used in human beings safely”. Three corneas can be 3D-printed from each donated human cornea.
Dr Sayan Basu and Dr Vivek Singh, who lead the research team from LV Prasad Eye Institute, said the technology will help in treating diseases like corneal scarring (opacity) and keratoconus (thinning of cornea). They said it is the first 3-D printed human cornea, which is optically and physically suitable for transplantation.
“The bio-ink used in 3D-printed cornea can be sight-saving for army personnel at the site of injury to seal the corneal perforation and prevent infection during war-related injuries or in a remote area with no tertiary eye care facility,” they added.
According to them, a little more than 1.5 million people become blind due to corneal issues every year. At present the only remedy is corneal transplantation. The technology could help in bridging the gap between demand and supply of cornea.
“Although corneal substitutes are being actively researched throughout the world, they are either animal-based or synthetic. Pig or other animal-based products are unsuitable for India and major parts of the developing world because of issues related to social and religious acceptability,” the researchers said, explaining how 3D-printed cornea is relatively affordable.
CCMB senior scientist B Kiran Kumar said it will be interesting to see how the bio-printed cornea will integrate and contribute to vision restoration.
The research team comprised among others Shibu Chameettachal, Deeksha Prasad and Yash Parekh. The translational work leading up to clinical trials in patients will be funded through a grant from Sree Padmavathi Venkateswara Foundation, Vijayawada.

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