What's the Problem?
Corneal blindness is one of the 4 main causes of blindness worldwide. Currently, there are more than 5 million people with corneal blindness that can only be treated with a transplant. The main limitation of transplantation is the shortage of donor tissue. Right now, there is only 1 cornea available for every 70 that are needed, which represents a waiting list of up to 2 years. The access to the available tissue and the cost of the surgery are additional limitations. This is a major problem in emerging countries. Tissue engineering can provide corneal tissue alleviating the lack of donor tissue and decreasing the cost of the procedure.
How are they Solving it?
We are a consolidated scientific team with more than 10 years working on the production of functional and transplantable corneal tissue. We developed a method of culturing the cells and a biocompatible scaffold for the transplantation of these cells. These engineered tissues are comparable in transparency and functionality to healthy human cornea. In a pilot preclinical test, we proved these tissues can restore the corneal clarity. This opens the possibility of using 1 healthy cornea to produce the necessary cells for up to 10 transplants and reduce the current cost of the procedure by 60%.