United Kingdom researchers first to 3D-print human corneas

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However, the researchers admitted that further investigations on 3D printed corneas are needed before they could be used in transplants. This means that the innovative method could someday be used to guarantee an unlimited supply of 3D printed corneas.

Che Connon, a tissue engineer at Newcastle University who was one of the inventors of the artificial cornea, said,"It was tricky to find the right recipe for an ink that's thin enough to squirt through a 3D printer's nozzle".

The ink was then inserted into a simple low-priced 3D bio printer and told to print in concentric circles into the shape of a cornea. The outermost layer plays a protective role by preventing dust and other foreign material from entering the eye.

The corneas is a crucial element in the outer layers of the eye used to focus vision and it is estimated some five million people suffer blindness due to cornea related wounds and diseases.

The breakthrough is the latest to show the promise of adult stem cells, which do not involve the destruction of human embryos.

The first human corneas have been 3D bioprinted by a research team at Newcastle University. He believes that bio-ink could solve the problem in the future.

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The incredible thing about the 3D-printed human corneas is that they can be custom made, notes the university.

The research, which was published in Experimental Eye Research, shows how stem cells from a healthy donor cornea got mixed with alginate and collagen to create a solution that could be printed, a so called "bio-ink". The printing process lasts 10 minutes.

3D-printed food offers new possibilities such as intricate designs, automated cooking, mass manufacturing, and personalised meals.

Scientists also demonstrated the ability to use data from an eye scan to print a cornea that matches a patient's specifications.

Because the methodology relies on corneal cells instead of an entire cornea, one donor can help multiple patients. 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. The researchers have now 3D printed human corneas for the first time. Building on previous work by the team showing stem cells can be kept alive for weeks at room temperature in a hydrogel similar to the bio-ink, the cells were shown to culture in the artificial cornea.

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