The 3D printing of human corneas is an exciting development in regenerative medicine. In 2018, a team of scientists at Newcastle University in the UK announced that they had successfully created the first 3D-printed human corneas.
According to reports, the researchers used a specially-designed bio-ink of human corneal stromal cells and alginate, a seaweed-derived polymer, to create the 3D-printed corneas. The resulting corneas were reportedly transparent and structurally similar to natural corneas. The ability to 3D-print human corneas has the potential to revolutionize the field of corneal transplantation, which currently relies on donated corneas. Using a patient’s cells to create a 3D-printed cornea could overcome the shortage of donor corneas and reduce the risk of rejection.
According to Newcastle University’s Dr. Steve Swioklo, co-author with Prof Che Connon, “As the outermost layer of the human eye, the cornea has an important role in focusing vision.”