Melbourne researchers say they have successfully grown and implanted cornea cells to cure blindness.
The cells were grown on a layer of synthetic film and transplanted into the eyes of animals, restoring vision.
The technique, developed by researchers at Melbourne University and the Centre for Eye Research, could replace transplants of donated cornea.
The cornea is a transparent layer at the front of the eye.
A layer of cells on its inner surface keeps it moist by “Pumping” water out of it.
Trauma, disease, and aging can reduce the number of these cells leading to deterioration and blindness.
“We believe that our new treatment is better than a donated cornea, and we eventually hope to use the patient’s cells, reducing the risk of rejection,” he said.
Victor Fortemann has had two failed cornea transplants and now needs another.
Mr. Ozcelik said the synthetic film looks a bit like cling wrap, and can be implanted on the inner surface of a patient’s cornea through a tiny incision.
The hydrogel film is thinner than a human hair and allows the flow of water between the cornea and the interior of the eye.
“This way of using patients own cells, amplifying them outside the body and replacing them is a very exciting new area,” he said.
The Centre for Eye Research is now looking for venture capital to set up the human trials.
If successful, the film could be used to generate cornea cells for patients in China and Japan where donated tissue is not favored.