Scientists at the University of Newcastle have printed a human cornea in 3D using stem cells.
3D printing is part of the future of medicine. Whether it is a cast, a prosthesis, or skin, 3D printing has demonstrated its value on many occasions. British researchers have come to realize a new advance in the use of this technique. They managed to print a cornea in 3D, made from human stem cells. Their research was conducted at the University of Newcastle, USA.
The cornea is a transparent tissue that covers the iris and pupil. It is through it that the light passes, which is then transmitted to the lens and the retina. It can be damaged by infection, trauma or inflammation, causing partial or complete blindness. Corneal transplants allow patients to recover a correct vision.
10 minutes to print a cornea
The British scientists used corneal stem cells from a healthy donor and mixed them with alginate and collagen. This mixture was used to create a “bio-ink”. This one was then used in a 3D printer and allowed the researchers to make viable corneas.
Che Connon led this work and explains: “Our gel keeps the stem cells alive while producing a material that is strong enough to keep its shape but flexible enough to pass through the tip of a 3D printer. ” 3D technology also allows them to adapt the shape and size of the cornea to the patient’s eye. The printing process lasts 10 minutes.
A widespread technology in the field of health
3D technology is used in many areas today. Handicap International, for example, uses it to equip amputees in disadvantaged areas. 19 patients were equipped with this device in 2016. The printing is made to measure and remotely. The only barrier is the price: more than 1500 dollars against 150 with conventional methods.
Other researchers have managed to print cartilage in 3D, a very promising method because this tissue can not regenerate. Prosthetic impression of limb, tissue, or other, 3D printing continues to develop. In 2015, the 3D printing market in health accounted for $ 490 million.