Impact Lab


Subscribe Now to Our Free Email Newsletter
November 5th, 2007 at 2:47 pm

Patent Round-up: Sea Cucumber Corneas

When a person’s cornea – the transparent surface layer at the front of the eye – becomes damaged, it can be replaced using tissue from an organ donor. But there is a big shortage of corneal donors, as there are for every other type of organ.

IL-Header-Communicating-with-the-Future

An ideal solution would be to develop an artificial cornea, but is has proved very hard to design and manufacture a structure so that it is optically clear in the middle and biocompatible at the edges.

Now Garret Matthews, a biophysicist at the University of South Florida in Tampa, US, and his colleagues have come up with a design for artificial corneas that they say achieves this – using sea cucumbers.

Sea cucumbers are sausage-shaped echinoderms, most species of which live on the sea floor in a variety of marine environments around of the globe.

The team’s artificial cornea is made from tiny collagen fibres extracted from these sea cucumbers. When placed in a centrifuge, the fibres self assemble into layers in which the fibres are aligned vertically, a structure that is very similar to the tissue in mammalian corneas. The result is a thin layer of material that is transparent and biocompatible, as well as cheap and easy to make, says the team.

IL-Header-Communicating-with-the-Future

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Understanding the future through the eyes of a child