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First 3D Printed Human Corneas

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Newcastle University professor Che Connon shows a printed cornea.

Newcastle University researchers have developed a technique for the use of three-dimensional printers for the creation of human corneas.

Credit: Newcastle University

Researchers at Newcastle University in the U.K. have developed a technique for the use of a three-dimensional (3D) printer to print human corneas.

In the future, the technique could ensure an unlimited supply of corneas despite the ongoing shortage.

The proof-of-concept research demonstrates that stem cells (human corneal stromal cells) from a healthy donor cornea can be mixed with alginate and collagen to create a printable "bio-ink" solution.

The bio-ink was extruded in concentric circles, using an inexpensive 3D bio-printer, into the shape of a human cornea in less than 10 minutes.

Newcastle University's Che Connon says the team's unique gel keeps the stem cells alive while producing a material that can hold its shape and squeeze through the printer's nozzle.

The team also demonstrated the ability to tailor a cornea to match a patient's unique size and shape by scanning the patient's eye.

The 3D-printed corneas will undergo further testing and could be ready for use in transplants in several years, says Connon.

From Newcastle University (UK)
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