Recently, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad (IIT) India L v Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) announced that its 3D printed cornea was successfully tested on animals for the first time. The Indian 3D-printed corneas, made from bio-ink derived from human donor tissue, were transplanted into the eyes of rabbits. Because of its "completely natural" basis, the implant's developers say it could soon be "used in humans" to treat corneal scarring and other serious eye conditions that can lead to blindness.
According to LVPEI principal investigators Dr. Sayan Basu and Dr. Vivken Singh, this is the first 3D printed artificial cornea that is optically and physically suitable for transplantation. This bio-ink 3D printed cornea could provide vision for Army personnel with eye injuries to seal corneal perforations and prevent infections during war-related injuries.
While the cornea, the clear part of the eye that covers the iris and pupil, is usually elastic and can heal from minor abrasions, it can be damaged in many ways, including improper use of contact lenses and scarring from exposure to things that cause injury.
Even those who lead relatively healthy lifestyles can suffer from problems such as corneal dystrophy due to poor eye care, and these problems can lead to poor vision. According to the National Eye Institute, the primary therapies used to treat corneal conditions remain laser therapy, or organic or artificial tissue grafts. However, despite these artificial tissues have certain limitations. Although corneal alternatives are being actively researched around the world, they are either animal-based or synthetic. Products from pigs or animals are not suitable for major markets in India and developing countries due to issues related to social and religious responsibility.
Specifically, a biometric gel was developed in India using decellularized corneal tissue matrix and stem cells extracted from human eyes. The material is completely free of synthetic components and is designed to provide an ideal microenvironment for stromal regeneration. In fact, according to Falguni Pati, associate professor at IIT-Hyderabad, the Bio-Ink bio-3D printed material they used maintains the curvature and thickness of the bio-cornea. 3D printed corneas have been successfully tested in animals and such implants may soon be useful for treating corneal scars or conditions such as ocular scars or corneal corneal bulges, thus bringing about a large number of vision problems new treatment solutions for a large number of vision problems.
The use of stem cells for the treatment of damaged human organs is gaining rapid momentum, and in combination with 3D printing, stem cell therapy is taking on a mysterious dimension of medical technology. Previously, a team of engineers and neuroscientists at the University of California, San Diego, also conducted a study to repair neural connections and lost motor function in patients with spinal cord injuries through 3D-printed implants that act as microchannel structures to guide the growth of neural stem cells and axons along the length of the spinal cord injury.
The researchers fill the 3D printed implants/scaffolds with neural stem cells and then fit them into the spinal cord injury site like a missing puzzle piece. 3D printed scaffolds act like bridges, connecting and aligning the regenerating axons at one end of the spinal cord injury with the other end. The axons themselves can spread and regenerate in any direction, but the scaffold keeps the axons neatly aligned and guides them to grow in the right direction to complete the spinal cord connection. This research has now been conducted in animal experiments and has shown promising applications.
Not only for repairing neural connections in patients with spinal cord injuries, but the combination of stem cells and bio-3D printing has also led to myocardial repair technology, according to 3D Science Valley's market research, in which BIOLIFE4D, a U.S. biobusiness, created a patch for heart repair in 2018 through a bio-3D printer and stem cells. The company claims the patch contains a variety of cells that make up the human heart, not just cardiac muscle cells, but also the initial formation of blood vessels.
Not only that, but stem cells and 3D printing technology hold the promise of treating congenital heart disease. 3D printing is also being used abroad to create valves, which are made using skin cells from patients, which minimizes the risk of organ rejection and allows the organ to grow with the patient, meaning it will never need to be replaced, and stem cell 3D printed valves hold the promise of providing pediatric patients with a valve that can grow. In addition, 3D printing + stem cell bone tissue regeneration technology is expected to achieve clinical scale application in the next 5-10 years. In short, 3D printing brings a "magic touch" to tissue regeneration technology, either from a degradable perspective or from a regenerative perspective, to create safer and better treatment solutions for human beings.