Artificial cornea nearing clinical trial stage

November 1, 2007

An artificial cornea based on a commercially available polymer, may be ready for clinical testing early in 2008.

An artificial cornea based on a commercially available polymer, may be ready for clinical testing early in 2008.

The cornea, developed by members of the European Union-funded CORNEA project, is made from a polymer that does not absorb water and does not allow cells to grow on it. After shaping the polymer, the researchers selectively coated the implants by laying masks on them and then applying a protein to the edge of the cornea, which the cells of the natural cornea can latch on to. This process allows the implant to connect firmly while keeping the centre of the cornea free of cells, thereby not impairing the patient's vision. The optical front part of the artificial cornea is coated with a hydrophilic polymer to keep it constantly moistened with tear fluid.

The first implants have already undergone successful animal testing and the researchers hope to begin human trials in 2008.