17th August, 2022 Science and Technology
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- For the first time, researchers in Sweden have been able to create a successful alternative — bioengineered cornea implants made of collagen derived from pig skin.
- The implant was used to successfully restore the vision of 20 people in India and Iran, most of whom were blind due to keratoconus, a disease that leads to thinning of the cornea.
- As a substitute for human corneas, the researchers utilised medical-grade collagen derived from pig skin, a byproduct of the food industry that is already used in medical devices for glaucoma surgery. This is not only cheaper and easier to access than donated corneas, but requires a less invasive procedure and can be stored for a significantly longer period — up to two years.
- The researchers developed a minimally invasive method without the use of stitches, where a small incision is made in the patient’s eye, and the implant is inserted over the existing cornea.
- This new method was used by surgeons in India and Iran, where there is a lack of donated corneas.
- Bioengineering is the application of the life sciences, physical sciences, mathematics and engineering principles to define and solve problems in biology, medicine, health care and other fields.
- Bioengineering is a relatively new discipline that combines many aspects of traditional engineering fields such as chemical, electrical and mechanical engineering. Examples of bioengineering include:
- artificial hips, knees and other joints
- ultrasound, MRI and other medical imaging techniques
- using engineered organisms for chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing