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Synthetic corneas restore sight: Swedish study

The Local · 30 Aug 2010, 16:05

Published: 30 Aug 2010 16:05 GMT+02:00

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The results, from an early phase clinical trial with 10 patients, were reported in the publication on Wednesday.

"We are very encouraged by these results and by the great potential of biosynthetic corneas," said Linköping University eye surgeon Dr. Per Fagerholm.

"Further biomaterial enhancements and modifications to the surgical technique are ongoing and new studies are being planned that will extend the use of the biosynthetic cornea to a wider range of sight-threatening conditions requiring transplantation," he added.

Dr. Fagerholm's collaboration with senior author Dr. May Griffith of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, the University of Ottawa and Linköping University has resulted in the first human experience with biosynthetic cornea implantation.

"This study is important because it is the first to show that an artificially fabricated cornea can integrate with the human eye and stimulate regeneration," said Dr. Griffith.

"With further research, this approach could help restore sight to millions of people who are waiting for a donated human cornea for transplantation," she added.

The cornea is a thin transparent layer of collagen and cells that acts as a window into the eyeball. It must be completely transparent to allow the light to enter and it also helps with focus.

Diseases resulting in corneal clouding are the most common cause of blindness.

Dr. Griffith and her colleagues began developing biosynthetic corneas in Ottawa more than 10 years ago using collagen produced in laboratories and moulding them into corneas. They initiated a clinical trial with 10 Swedish patients with advanced keratoconus or central corneal scarring

Each patient underwent surgery on one eye to remove damaged corneal tissue and replace it with the biosynthetic cornea, made from synthetically cross-linked recombinant human collagen.

Over two years of follow-up, the researchers observed that cells and nerves from the patients' own corneas had grown into the implant, resulting in a "regenerated" cornea that resembled normal healthy tissue.

Story continues below…

Patients did not experience any rejection reaction or require long-term immune suppression, serious side effects associated with the use of human donor tissue.

The biosynthetic corneas also became sensitive to touch and began producing normal tears to keep the eye oxygenated.

Vision improved in six of the 10 patients and after contact lens fitting, vision was comparable to conventional corneal transplantation with human donor tissue.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

21:24 August 30, 2010 by Roger O. Thornhill
So if I read this correctly, then if the patient's vision needs no correction then the patient should seed fine after transplant.

There are thousands of diseased eyes, and many more with complications to the flap from Lasik.
00:49 August 31, 2010 by waffen

This is very good news for those who are without sight and for those who are suffering impaired vision. This development is a real advancement in eye-care generally and a boon to those who have lost sight.

Well done, to the fine team of doctors.
21:00 April 22, 2012 by Lorensofrank
Hi, I have a brother but he lives in Colombia S.A. He has had three transplants of cornea in one of his eyes, but he made rejection in all. I think he will be the best candidate for this advance in byosinthetic cornea. Now he has a deep depression affecting his self-esteem and motivation to continue his normal life. The great dream of my brother is be able to participate someday as patient in a clinical trial that you are dealing. He is of limited economic resources and there (Colombia) are very few opportunities to leave the Country in search of solution to his medical problem. I really would appreciate the help tou give to him. Thanks again.
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