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ArtCornea  (Source: Fraunhofer IAP)
A second artificial cornea was developed for those with corneal damage

A team of German researchers has created an artificial cornea to restore the vision of those with corneal damage.

The research team, hailing from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer research in Potsdam, Germany, created an artificial cornea from the ART CORNEA project. Dr. Joachim Storsberg and a Fraunhofer team are responsible for the development.

Many people go blind due to damage to the cornea. This can happen via trauma, disease or absent limbal stem cells. Receiving a new cornea from a donor can help restore sight, but not all patients have this option for one of two reasons: there aren't enough donors, or they don't tolerate transplanted corneas.

That is why the Fraunhofer team developed two different artificial corneas. One can be used on those that do not tolerate transplanted corneas, and the other acts as a treatment to those with a damaged cornea and are waiting on a donor.

ArtCornea, which is the artificial cornea for those that do not tolerate transplanted corneas, is based on a polymer that has significant water-absorbing characteristics. It has a new surface coating and a chemically enhanced haptic edge that encourages cell growth and allows for anchorage in host tissue. The optical surface area was also increased for better light penetration, and the end result was an artificial cornea that is barely visible and does not provoke an immune response.

The second artificial cornea, called ACTO-TexKpro, has an inert base material that is biologically compatible with it, allowing the patient's cornea to bond together naturally with the artificial version. The team did this by altering the base material (polyvinylidene dofluoride) via a reactive molecule coating. This also allows the implant's silicon-made inner optics to be free of cells.

The artificial corneas were tested on several rabbits, and after 6 months of healing, the implants were accepted and securely anchored.

Source: Fraunhofer





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