The first human corneas have been 3D-printed by scientists at Newcastle University in the UK.
As the outermost layer of the human eye, the cornea has an important role in focusing vision. Yet there is a significant shortage of corneas available to transplant, with 10 million people worldwide requiring surgery to prevent corneal blindness as a result of diseases such as trachoma, an infectious eye disorder.
Another five million people suffer total blindness due to corneal scarring.
Scientists used stem cells from a healthy donor cornea mixed with alginate and collagen to create a solution that could be printed, a “bio-ink”. Using a 3D bio-printer, it took less than 10 minutes to print. The stem cells were shown to culture – or grow.