Delhi Hospital Succeeds in Animal Trials of Bio-Engineered Corneas

Delhi's Dr. Shroff's Charity Eye Hospital is making strides in the development of bio-engineered corneas, potentially revolutionizing vision restoration. Led by Dr. Virender Sangwan, the hospital's Director of Innovation, the team has successfully conducted animal trials and is now seeking approval for human trials. Bioengineered corneas offer several advantages over traditional corneal transplants, as they are created outside the body using biomaterials such as collagen, protein, and peptides. This approach eliminates the risk of rejection and bypasses the limitations posed by the scarcity of donated human corneas.

Corneal opacity, a leading cause of blindness worldwide, affects millions of people annually. The current reliance on corneas from deceased donors poses significant challenges due to the limited supply and stringent requirements for transplantation. 

Encouraging results have emerged from animal trials, with an 80% success rate observed in rabbit subjects. The team plans to initiate human trials to determine the effectiveness of the technology in restoring vision. The bioengineered cornea can be applied as liquid drops, which solidify within 10 minutes using visible light and seamlessly integrate with the patient's cornea. The solidified matrix acts as a scaffold for the sustained release of exosomes, which promote healing by suppressing inflammation, reversing fibrosis, regenerating nerves, and restoring corneal thickness. The procedure eliminates the need for stitching and circumvents the necessity for donor corneas, providing patients with a chance to regrow damaged corneas with minimal surgical intervention.

The team plans to apply for approval from the Drug Controller General of India (DGCI) in the coming months, aiming to address various types of corneal scars caused by infections and injuries.

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