World’s first 3D-printed cornea made from algae and human stem c - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

World’s first 3D-printed cornea made from algae and human stem cells

By Dyllan Furness


Content Provided by  

The human eye is a remarkably sophisticated organand like the lens to a camera, it’s the cornea that focuses the flood of photons into a perceptible image. But for an estimated 15 million people around the world, eye disease and trauma make surgery the only path to clear vision.

In the next few years, artificial corneas may become more accessible thanks to new research out of Newcastle University in the United Kingdom. There, researchers mixed stem cells from the cornea of a healthy donor with collagen and algae molecules to create a bio-ink, which they 3D-printed into an artificial cornea. The research is currently just a proof-of-concept but lays the groundwork for future techniques to create low-cost, easy-to-produce bionic eyes.

There were three features required for the bio-ink, according to Che Connon, a professor of tissue engineering at Newcastle.

“One, it needed to be able to keep a stem cell population alive,” he told Digital Trends. “It needed to be extrudable, or thin enough to push through a thin gauge needle to allow for bio-printing. And the material needed to be stiff enough such that it holds it shape, allowing to build up a 3D cornea.”

Connon and his colleagues previously managed to keep stem cells alive for weeks at room temperature in a similar bio-ink. This recent study advanced that research by using a ready-made bio-ink packed with stem cells, without having to wait for the cells to grow separately. The team also demonstrated that they could tailor their 3D-printed cornea to match the unique dimensions of a patient’s eye by taking an image of the cornea and rendering it as a 3D model.

It will take some years still until 3D-printed corneas make it to the market. But, if and when that does happen, the research will prove most beneficial for developing regions where cases of corneal damage is highest and supply of donor corneas are most limited.

“There’s a lack of donor cornea, especially in the less developed world,” Connon said. “They don’t have good eye banks there like they do in the more developed world. That means many people don’t have access to corneal transplantation. And in these less developed nations, there are more instances of burns and infections that can cause corneal blindness.”

A paper detailing the research was published this week in the journal Experimental Eye Research.


  helps readers keep tabs on the fast-paced world of tech with all the latest news, fun product reviews, insightful editorials, and one-of-a-kind sneak peeks.

  • HealthMore>>

  • Spider silk micocapsules could deliver vaccines to help battle cancer

    Spider silk micocapsules could deliver vaccines to help battle cancer

    Friday, June 15 2018 3:27 PM EDT2018-06-15 19:27:26 GMT
    Researchers from Switzerland’s University of Geneva demonstrated how microcapsules made of spider silk could deliver life-saving vaccines direct to your immune cells to fight cancer.
    Researchers from Switzerland’s University of Geneva demonstrated how microcapsules made of spider silk could deliver life-saving vaccines direct to your immune cells to fight cancer.
  • The best wetsuits

    The best wetsuits

    Tuesday, June 19 2018 2:29 PM EDT2018-06-19 18:29:11 GMT
    An investment in a good wetsuit allows you to surf from sunup to sundown, while the right fit keeps you warm and dry all day long. To help you navigate the sea of available options, we've put together a list of the...
    An investment in a good wetsuit allows you to surf from sunup to sundown, while the right fit keeps you warm and dry all day long. To help you navigate the sea of available options, we've put together a list of the best...
  • The Apple Watch Series 1 has been discounted to an all-time low

    The Apple Watch Series 1 has been discounted to an all-time low

    Wednesday, June 20 2018 5:59 PM EDT2018-06-20 21:59:47 GMT
    Smartwatches are struggling to find their place in today's tech-saturated market, with one exception: The Apple Watch. Now, you can score a brand-new Apple Watch Series 1 for just $149 -- the lowest price we've...
    Smartwatches are struggling to find their place in today's tech-saturated market, with one exception: The Apple Watch. Now, you can score a brand-new Apple Watch Series 1 for just $149 -- the lowest price we've seen yet.
Powered by Frankly