Researchers have made an implant using collagen protein found in pig skin and it resembles the cornea of humans.
A pilot study related to this development restored the vision of 20 people with diseased corneas. Moreover, most of them were suffering from blindness before the corneal implant. This research provides hope to those who have low vision and corneal blindness. The biomedically engineered implant can serve as an alternative to donated human corneas, which are already very scarce. In addition to scarcity, getting approval for organ donations is also very difficult.
Neil Lagali, who is one of the researchers in the study said,
12.7 million people around the world have corneal blindness and the only method to regain vision is through a corneal transplant. However, due to the scarcity, only one out of 70 patients receive it. Moreover, most people who need the transplant belong to low- or middle-income countries with limited access to treatment.
According to Mehrdad Rafat, another researcher behind the implant, the work’s core aim is to maintain the bioengineered implants’ safety and effectiveness. He said,
The pig skin used in the research followed high purification standards for human use. Furthermore, it is a food byproduct, which makes it easy to access and cost-efficient and while donated corneas require to be used within two weeks, these bioengineered corneas can be kept in storage for up to two years.