Researchers at Newcastle University, located in the United Kingdom, have recently published a new paper that details that they have successfully 3D printed the world's first cornea. The aim behind this research is to provide patients who are blind or are deteriorating into blindness with a replacement cornea for their eyes. At the moment, there's a huge demand for human cornea transplants, but if researchers can print them and distribute them out to patients accordingly, then those waitlists for transplants would be reduced significantly.
So how does this work? Researchers took corneal stem cells from a healthy donor and added the samples to alginate and collagen. The result of this mixture was what is called "bio-ink". From this stage, scientists were able to perfectly form the ink into the cornea shape using a 3D bio-printer. Of course, with most bleeding-edge level technology, it will be several years before the printed corneas are issued out to patients, as researchers still need to perform numerous levels of testing to ensure safety. Regardless of the wait time for the corneas, it still proves that this idea is completely feasible.
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