Scientists have successfully 3D printed a cornea utilizing a biocompatible bioink, composed of decellularized corneal stroma and stem cells, resulting in a replica with transparency similar to a human cornea.

A collaborative team of engineering and medical scientists from the Pohang University of Science and Technology (Republic of Korea) have developed a strategy for 3D printing artificial corneas, with transparency and flexibility qualities similar to human corneas.

Kim H, Jang J, Park J et alShear-induced alignment of collagen fibrils using 3D cell printing for corneal stroma tissue engineeringBiofabrication. 11(035017) (2019);

With a bioink composed of corneal tissue – decellularized corneal stroma and stem cells – the bioprinted artificial cornea is biocompatible, improving upon traditional methods involving the use of synthetic materials.

Organized in a lattice pattern of collagen fibrils, this is reportedly the first time that transparency of this quality has been replicated in an artificial human cornea. The team achieved the repetition of the microenvironment by ‘shear stress’ applied to the bioink during the 3D printing process, controlling the pattern of collagen fibrils.

The team hope that this strategy will provide relief to over 2000 patients waiting for cornea donation, as artificial corneas may be the answer to satisfying the demand currently unfulfilled by viable donors.

“The suggested strategy can achieve the criteria for both transparency and safety of engineered cornea stroma. We believe it will give hope to many patients suffered from cornea related diseases,” Jinah Jang (Pohang University of Science and Technology) concluded.

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