A new cornea study by Australian researchers might help to resolve global transplant shortages. An innovative cornea treatment that can reduce the need for conventional donor tissue transplants has been undertaken. The worldwide cornea shortage could be resolved with hydrogel film developed by experts.
Every year, corneal transplants are undertaken throughout the world, but due to cell rejection of foreign donor tissues, the traditional transplants may not be successful. In the new breakthrough, scientists have supported the growth of a patient's own corneal cells, which obviates the risk of transplant failures. Hence, with a patient growing his or her own cells, it is not possible for the body to reject it.
Experts at the Melbourne University and the Centre for Eye Research have grown and implanted corneal cells successfully. The new technique is seen as revolutionary, according to research scientist Berkay Ozcelik.
"We believe that our new treatment is better than a donated cornea and we eventually hope to use the patient's own cells, reducing the risk of rejection," he said.
With a tiny incision, a synthetic, hydrogel film can be implanted into the inner surface of a cornea. This film is thinner than human hair and enables the flow of water from the cornea to the interior of the eye. After a couple of months, the film breaks down and disappears.
"These materials show minimal inflammation, cause no adverse issues at all and can cause regeneration of tissue, hence allowing us to use this for various applications. We've actually developed a new class of material using novel chemical methods. The film could be used for other tissue engineering such as skin," Ozcelik told the ABC.
So far, animal trials have been undertaken, while human trials will begin in the following year, for which the Centre for Eye research is looking for venture capital. The breakthrough may begin to generate cornea cells for patients in Japan and China, where people do not prefer tissue donation.