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Bio-Ink Used to 3D Print Human Cornea in 10 Minutes


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The transparent area at the front of our eyes covering the iris and pupil is called the cornea. It's very important for vision as you'd expect, but roughly 10 million people around the world require surgery to prevent corneal blindness and a further five million are blind due to corneal scarring. It's possible to transplant a cornea and restore sight, but there's a major shortage of them.

A research team at Newscastle University decided to solve this problem by figuring out how to 3D print brand new corneas on demand, and it looks as though they've succeeded.


3D printers are quite commonplace now, with a plastic material typically squeezed out of a nozzle to slowly build up a shape in layers. For a human cornea, the plastic needs to be replaced with a bio-ink containing stem cells. The problem lies in coming up with a bio-ink that's stiff enough to retain its shape while still capable of being squeezed through a printing nozzle. It also needs to keep the stem cells alive.


The research team's breakthrough is a unique gel made from a combination of alginate, collagen, and stem cells which is compatible with a 3D bio-printer. The eye requiring a cornea transplant is scanned to figure out the exact size and shape of cornea required. Those details are then fed into the printer and the bio-ink printing begins. The printer can perfectly match the size and shape required and takes less than 10 minutes to recreate the cornea artificially.



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Great! Now all we need is to embed very tiny carbon fiber wires and electrodes in there and a transparent chip/display so we can have instant AR/VR.
Maybe 50 years more waiting....:D

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