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S. Garty, R. Shirakawa, A. Warsen, B. D. Ratner, T. T. Shen; Polymeric Material System Development for an Artificial Cornea to Treat Global Blindness. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2008;49(13):3923. doi: https://doi.org/.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The development of polymeric, well integrated systems as a complete replacement for the human cornea.
Our approach combines the advantages of current Boston Keratoprosthesis (Boston K-Pro) designs while improving on their deficiencies. The design consists of a wide, rigid polymeric optic core, inter-connected with a flexible, porous polymer periphery. The optic-center displays precise optical rigid structure, high strength, high water content and improved biocompatibility and may be customized to refractive requirements of individual patients. The well-defined porous structure of the hydrogel is synthesized using a sphere-templating technique that imparts varying interconnected pore size (20-160 microns) and forms a flexible peripheral rim that encourages cell growth into it.
Healing and biointegration of implanted scaffold was encouraged by optimizing the porous structure and biomolecules embedded in the hydrogel. The polymeric system properties were examined both in vitro using different analytical tools including rheological and morphological analysis and in vivo inrabbit models, which were analyzed by immunohistochemistry and high-resolution scanning electron microscopy (HR-SEM). Surface modification was accomplished using a heterobifunctional crosslinker to conjugate biological factors that encourage epithelial cell adhesion and proliferation. Our device designed to enhance the essential functions of the human cornea (refractive function and strong barrier) and to eliminate its weaknesses (astigmatism, vulnerable to infections).
Our preliminary findings suggest that the materials tested are well-tolerated in vivo as shown in the rabbit model. Those findings are supported by additional analyses including the immunohistochemistry and morphological examinations. Those materials have the potential to be adapted as an artificial cornea on a worldwide scale, especially in developing-nations with limited resources.
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