Posts tagged bionic
For the thousands of people who go blind every year from damage to the cornea (though trauma, disease, or missing limbal stem cells), a new cure may be in sight. The established treatment — a corneal transplant — requires finding suitable donors and doesn’t work for some patients. Now, German researchers are working to develop an artificial, implantable cornea.
The ART CORNEA project team, led by scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research, has developed two types of artificial corneas.
ArtCornea is for patients whose bodies reject transplanted corneas. The cornea is based on a water-absorbent polymer with a new surface coating and chemically altered haptic edge that promotes the growth of local cells that graft to the surrounding tissue, anchoring the implant into the patient’s eye. The researchers enlarged the device’s optical surface area, improving light penetration. The team says ArtCornea is hardly visible and does not trigger an immune response.
ACTO-TexKpro is for patients who are awaiting a transplant. The team developed a chemically and biologically inert base material by coating polyvinylidene diflouride synthetic tissue with a reactive molecule. This allows the patient’s cornea to bond with the edge of the implant, yet keeps the implant’s silicon optics free of cells. The team says ACTO-TexKpro is suitable as a preliminary treatment for people whose corneas have been destroyed by chronic inflammation or a serious accident or burns.
The team has successfully tested the artificial corneas in rabbits, and human clinical trials are commencing at the Eye Clinic Cologne-Merheim. The team is optimistic — several patients whose bodies had rejected human transplants received an early version of the artificial cornea in 2009 and are still wearing their implants today without complications.
Bionic Vision Australia, in collaboration with a team at the University of New South Wales, has unveiled a working prototype of a bionic eye implant. The system uses an eyeglass-mounted camera and pocket image processor that wirelessly transmit the image to a receiver implanted in the eye. The implant is a chip with 98 electrodes that directly stimulate neurons in the eye’s retina, which can restore some vision to people with optical nerve problems like retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration.
The company plans to start clinical trials later this year, with normal patients receiving the implants by 2013.
Full press release after the break.