Researchers from Newcastle University have made an amazing breakthrough by 3D printing the most advanced artificial cornea with human stem cells. It is estimated that this technology could potentially change millions of lives if properly developed. According to Laura Yan’s article in Popular Mechanics,

“The cornea is the protective, clear outer layer covering the eye. When it’s damage, it creates serious vision problems or can cause blindness. Currently, people with damaged corneas hope for healthy corneas transplants from deceased donors, but the need far exceeds the supply.”

The 3D Printed Cornea Developed at Newcastle University (photo credit: Newcastle Univ. & Laura Yan-Popular Mechanics)

The research team of engineers at Newcastle University published their detailed results in Experimental Eye Research. According to their results, the initial development of these 3D printed corneas came as quite the challenge. Because of the cornea’s distinct curvature, they had to use special cameras to photograph the eyeballs of a volunteer in order to make a 3D model. The team was then tasked with developing an ink that would be usable on a 3D printer. They achieved this by creating a bioink which wouldn’t compromise the 3D shape of the cornea. By adding these donor stem cells to by alginate (a jelly-ish goo) and collagen (rope-like proteins) that provided an adequate texture.

The end-result resembled contact lens, but provided an incredibly impactful aid in vision. Although artificial corneas still require donors, each individual cornea donation can be used to its full potential with this technology. The research team believes that with just a single, healthy cornea donation, they can harvest enough cells from it to create up to 50 artificial corneas – an amazing figure that could potentially change millions of live for the better.

This is just the latest 3D printing breakthrough in the medical industry. Other breakthroughs include:

5 Medical Marvels of 3D Printing
Black Bone MRI’s: Changing Scanning for 3D Printed Medical Models
Improving Artificial Joints with 3D Printing
French Doctors Successfully Implant First-ever 3D Printed Airway Stent
Crohn’s Disease Patient Invites People to Look Inside His Virtual Colon
3D Printing Living Organs May Soon Be Possible
3D Printing: Changing Health Care
Doctors in Shanghai Use 3D Printed Brain Models for Surgery Prep
3D Printed Casts Help Bones Heal Almost Twice as Fast
3D Printing Technologies Aide Critical Facial Reconstruction Surgery
3D Printing Aides Doctors in the Separation Surgery of Conjoined Twins
3D Printing Aides Diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis Patients
Company Saves Time and Money Thank to In-House 3D Printed Medical Devices
Will Injection Molding be Replace by 3D Printing in the Medical Industry?
3D Systems’ MultiJet ProJet Makes 3D Printed Lungs from CT & MRI Scans
Open Bionics Introduces Affordable Prosthetic Arm

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