May 30, 2018 | By Thomas

Scientists at Newcastle University in the UK have successfully 3D printed the first human corneas. The technique could be used in the future to ensure an unlimited supply of corneas.

The researchers mixed stem cells from a healthy donor cornea with alginate and collagen to create a 'bio-ink' solution that could be 3D printed.

Using a simple low-cost 3D bioprinter, the bio-ink was extruded in concentric circles to form the shape of a human cornea - in less than 10 minutes, according to a paper published in Experimental Eye Research.

The stem cells were then shown to grow. And the team also demonstrated that they could build a cornea to match a patient's unique specifications by scanning their eye. They could then use the data to rapidly 3D print a cornea which matched the size and shape.

"Our unique gel -- a combination of alginate and collagen -- keeps the stem cells alive whilst producing a material which is stiff enough to hold its shape but soft enough to be squeezed out the nozzle of a 3D printer," said Che Connon, Professor of Tissue Engineering at Newcastle University, who led the work.

Dr. Steve Swioklo and Professor Che Connon with a dyed cornea.Credit: Newcastle University, UK

Professor Connon said many teams across the world have been chasing the ideal bio-ink to make this process feasible.

"This builds upon our previous work in which we kept cells alive for weeks at room temperature within a similar hydrogel," said Connon. "Now we have a ready to use bio-ink containing stem cells allowing users to start printing tissues without having to worry about growing the cells separately."

As the outermost layer of the human eye, the cornea has an important role in focusing vision, but there is a significant shortage of corneas available to transplant. Currently around 10 million people worldwide require surgery to prevent corneal blindness as a result of diseases such as trachoma, an infectious eye disorder. Around 5 million people suffer total blindness due to corneal dysfunction caused by burns, accident or disease.

Professor Connon said their 3D printed corneas would now have to undergo further testing and it would still be several years before scientists could use them for transplants. But the team had "shown is that it is feasible to print corneas using coordinates taken from a patient eye and that this approach has potential to combat the world-wide shortage."



Posted in 3D Printing Application



Maybe you also like:


Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to Feeds twitter facebook   

About provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive