Δημιουργήθηκε ο πρώτος κερατοειδής χιτώνας ματιού από τρισδιάστατο βιο-εκτυπωτή

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Επιστήμονες στη Βρετανία δημιούργησαν τον πρώτο τρισδιάστατα εκτυπωμένο κερατοειδή χιτώνα ματιού. Η τεχνική ανοίγει το δρόμο, ώστε στο μέλλον να υπάρξει απεριόριστη διαθεσιμότητα κερατοειδών χιτώνων, που αποτελούν το εξωτερικό στρώμα του ανθρώπινου ματιού, καθώς σήμερα υπάρχει έλλειψή τους για μεταμόσχευση.

Περίπου δέκα εκατομμύρια άνθρωποι σε όλο τον κόσμο χρειάζονται χειρουργική επέμβαση αντικατάστασης του κερατοειδούς για να αποφύγουν την τύφλωση εξαιτίας ασθενειών όπως το τράχωμα, μια λοιμώδης νόσος. ‘Αλλα πέντε εκατομμύρια ασθενείς έχουν χάσει την όρασή τους εξαιτίας καταστροφής του κερατοειδούς λόγω εγκαυμάτων, πληγών, εκδορών κ.α.

Οι ερευνητές του Πανεπιστημίου του Νιούκαστλ, με επικεφαλής τον καθηγητή Τσε Κόνον, που έκαναν τη σχετική δημοσίευση στο οφθαλμολογικο περιοδικό “Experimental Eye Research”, χρησιμοποίησαν ένα χαμηλού κόστους τρισδιάστατο βιο-εκτυπωτή. Το βιο-μελάνι ήταν ένα μίγμα από βλαστικά κύτταρα από τον δωρητή ενός υγιούς κερατοειδούς χιτώνα, κολλαγόνο και άλατα αλγινικών οξέων (προερχόμενα από φύκια), παράγοντας έτσι ένα υλικό αρκετά σκληρό για να διατηρεί το σχήμα του, αλλά και αρκετά μαλακό για να εκτυπώνεται.

Το βιο-μελάνι εκτυπώθηκε σε ομόκεντρους κύκλους και σταδιακά σχημάτισε το σχήμα ενός κερατοειδούς χιτώνα σε λιγότερα από δέκα λεπτά, ενώ στη συνέχεια τα βλαστοκύτταρα αναπτύχθηκαν σε κανονικό ιστό, ο οποίος μπορεί να προγραμματισθεί εκ των προτέρων, ώστε να έχει τις ακριβείς διαστάσεις του ματιού του ασθενούς.

Αυτοί οι 3-D κερατοειδείς χιτώνες θα περάσουν από διάφορες δοκιμές και αναμένεται να χρειασθούν μερικά χρόνια, προτού αξιοποιηθούν σε μεταμοσχεύσεις.

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