A revolutionary new medical trial was able to restore the sight of 20 people with damaged corneas, giving hope to millions!
The way the researchers achieved this was by using bioengineered implants made from pig skin.
Two years after the procedure, the 14 blind people involved have had their vision restored, 3 of them even having 20/20 vision now!
Neil Lagali, a researcher from Linköping University shares that “This gets us around the problem of shortage of donated corneal tissue and of access to other treatments for eye diseases.”
This massive step forward is great news since only 1 in 70 people suffering from vision loss manages to get a cornea transplant.
After all, donated corneas are in really short supply and the procedures themselves are expensive.
Biomedical engineer at Linköping University, Mehrdad Rafat, explains that “We have made significant efforts to make sure that our invention will be widely available and also affordable by all and not just by the wealthy. That is why this technology can be used in all parts of the world.”
In addition to the impressive bioengineered implants made from pig skin, the team has also developed a technique that does not require stitching.
This means that the procedure can be performed with less equipment and specialized conditions, and is therefore more accessible and less invasive as well!
Lagali explains that “A less invasive method could be used in more hospitals, therefore helping more people. With our new method, the surgeon does not need to remove the patient’s very own tissue. Instead, just a small incision is made, through which the implant is then inserted into the existing cornea.”
Another good news is that the implants can be stored for up to two years as opposed to human corneas which must be used within 2 weeks after donation.
To achieve this artificial cornea, the researchers purified collagen from pig skin, creating a brand new cornea layer.
Furthermore, to strengthen this soft material and make it more stable, they used chemical and photochemical methods.
The final result has been dubbed as a “bioengineered porcine construct, double crosslinked (BPCDX).”