A patented treatment could restore eyesight for millions of sufferers of corneal disease.
The University of Melbourne–led team of researchers have grown corneal cells on a layer of film that can be implanted in the eye to help the cornea heal itself. They have successfully restored vision in animal trials and are aiming to move to human trials next year.
Victor Fortmann’s vision in one eye failed following a condition called bullous keratopathy. Two donated cornea transplants restored his sight for a period, but he now needs a third to restore his vision in that eye.
Over 2000 corneal transplants are conducted in Australia each year. But globally there’s a shortage of donated corneas, and the resulting loss in vision affects about 10 million people worldwide.
“We believe that our new treatment performs better than a donated cornea, and we hope to eventually use the patient’s own cells, reducing the risk of rejection,” says Berkay Ozcelik who developed the film working at the University of Melbourne.
“Further trials are required but we hope to see the treatment trialled in patients next year,” he says.