A clinical trial of biosynthetic corneas conducted by Dr. Per Fagerholm of Linkoping University in Sweden and Dr. May Griffith of the University of Ottowa’s Ottowa Hospital Research Institute has produced very encouraging results. Dr. Griffith has been working with her colleagues for over a decade to produce a viable biosynthetic cornea suitable for implantation in humans. Collaborating with Dr. Fagerholm, she began a clinical trial two years ago of this first-ever biosynthetic corneal implant in humans.
For two years, Drs. Griffith and Fagerholm closely followed the progress of the 10 patients who received the biosynthetic corneas. Now, they have found that the patients’ cells and nerves had successfully integrated with the biosynthetic implant. The regenerated corneas act like healthy, natural ones, even becoming touch-sensitive and producing tears normally.
This study is the first so far to demonstrate that an artificial cornea can successfully be integrated with the eye tissue and produce a regenerative effect. With millions of patients worldwide waiting for a human cornea transplant, the potential of this technological innovation is clearly impressive.
The patients in this clinical trial had advanced keratoconus (conical cornea) or scarring of the central cornea. With further advancements in the biosynthetic material and the surgical implantation technique, Drs. Fagerholm and Griffith hope to establish the effectiveness of biosynthetic corneas for treating a broader range of eye diseases and conditions that usually require a corneal transplant.