India’s first 3-D printed cornea developed by scientists from Hyderabad


PTI, Aug 15, 2022, 10:27 AM IST

Representative Image (Source: iStock)

For the first time in India, researchers in the city have successfully 3D-printed an artificial cornea and transplanted it into a rabbit eye.

Researchers from L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), Indian Institute of Technology-Hyderabad (IITH), and the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), have collaborated to develop a 3D-printed cornea from the human donor corneal tissue, a press release issued on Sunday said.

Developed indigenously through government and philanthropic funding, the product is completely natural, contains no synthetic components, is free of animal residues and is safe to use in patients, it said.

With recent advancements in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering, the researchers from LVPEI, IITH and CCMB used decellularised corneal tissue matrix and stem cells derived from the human eye to develop a unique biomimetic hydrogel (patent pending) that was used as the background material for the 3D-printed cornea.

As the 3D-printed cornea is composed of materials deriving from human corneal tissue, it is biocompatible, natural, and free of animal residues, it said.

Dr Sayan Basu and Dr Vivek Singh, lead researchers from LVPEI, said this can be a groundbreaking and disruptive innovation in treating diseases like corneal scarring (where the cornea becomes opaque) or Keratoconus (where the cornea gradually becomes thin with time).

”It is a made-in-India product by an Indian clinician-scientist team and the first 3-D printed human cornea that is optically and physically suitable for transplantation. The bio-ink used to make this 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 said.

”We used a biomimicking approach to provide an optimised micro-environment for stromal regeneration while maintaining the curvature and thickness of the bio-printed cornea to facilitate surgical implantation. We are hopeful about the positive outcome of India’s first 3D bio-printed corneal graft,” Dr Falguni Pati, Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, IIT Hyderabad said.

This research was funded by a grant from the Department of Biotechnology and the translational work leading up to clinical trials in patients will be funded through a grant from Sree Padmavathi Venkateswara Foundation, Vijayawada, according to the release.

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