An artificial corneal implant made from pigskin has been successful in a small clinical trial, with 14 blind patients regaining their sight after surgery, and three of them even regained their vision completely.
Many people have vision loss due to corneal damage. A mildly damaged cornea can heal on its own, but severe damage can lead to blindness and require a corneal transplant to restore vision.
Corneal transplantation is expensive and time-consuming. Patients need to take medicine for more than 1 year to ensure that the body does not reject foreign tissue. Like other organ transplants, the cornea must be used as soon as possible within 2 weeks after the death of the donor. For patients in poorer areas In other words, there are basically no donated corneas to use.
Now, a Swedish team has a new solution: bioengineered corneal implants made from pigskin.
Keratoconus is an eye disease that causes the cornea to become thinner and thinner, which may cause blurred vision, diplopia, myopia, and astigmatism. Usually both eyes of the patient suffer from the disease. Medical scientists suspect that allergies, rubbing the eyes and other factors may also trigger keratoconus.
Scientists made artificial corneal implants from collagen harvested from pigskin and, in a small clinical trial, demonstrated that the implants improved vision in 20 patients with advanced keratoconus,
Fourteen of the patients, who had been blind before the surgery, regained some vision after receiving the implants and were even able to put back contact lenses; three other patients who were blind regained full vision after the implants were transplanted.
What’s more reassuring is that tissue healing is also very fast, and immunosuppressive eye drops can prevent rejection in just 8 weeks,
And all the above subjects did not experience any adverse reactions 2 years after surgery, such as inflammation, scarring, etc.
More than 10 years ago, researchers have demonstrated that biosynthetic corneas are an effective replacement for human corneas, and biosynthetic corneas can be efficiently made using medical-grade collagen derived from pigskin at low cost.
And the existing engineering technology can be mass-produced and safely stored for nearly 2 years, unlike donated fresh corneas, which must be quickly transplanted within 2 weeks after removal.
The trial offers hope for the millions of patients awaiting corneal transplants, but larger clinical trials are still needed before the new implant can hit the market. The research paper was also published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.
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