Scientists from Canada and Sweden have successfully used biosynthetic corneas to restore patients’ eyesight in a human trial.
The biosynthetic implants were developed using recombinant human collagen, which was synthesised in a laboratory and supplied by FibroGen, a San Francisco biotech firm.
Researchers from Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Canada, and Linkoping University, Sweden, conducted a trial involving ten patients, in which they removed the diseased corneas and replaced then with biosynthetic implants.
Two years after the surgery, the cells and nerves had grown completely in nine of the ten patients.
Vision improved in six of the ten patients, and the researchers found that their vision was comparable to those who undergo normal human corneal implants.
The biosynthetic corneas became sensitive to touch and the patients were able to produce normal tears.
Lead researcher May Griffith said that with further research, this approach could help restore sight to millions of people who are waiting for a donated human cornea for transplantation.
The cornea is a film-like tissue of the eye, which can be destroyed by infection or trauma.
The study was published in Science Translational Medicine.