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Thursday / May 30.
Homeminews3D-Printed Eye Tissue

3D-Printed Eye Tissue

Scientists in the United States have used patient stem cells and 3D bioprinting to produce eye tissue that will help them study a range of degenerative eye diseases.

According to the National Eye Institute (NEI), the research team printed a combination of cells that form the outer blood-retina barrier – eye tissue that supports the retina’s light-sensing photoreceptors.

The technique provides a theoretically unlimited supply of patient-derived tissue to study degenerative retinal diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Dr Kapil Bharti, who heads the NEI section on Ocular and Stem Cell Translational Research, and colleagues, combined three immature choroidal cell types in a hydrogel. The scientists then printed the gel on a biodegradable scaffold. Within days, the cells began to mature into a dense capillary network. On day nine, the scientists seeded retinal pigment epithelial cells on the flip side of the scaffold. The printed tissue reached full maturity on day 42.

Tissue analyses and genetic and functional testing showed that the printed tissue looked and behaved similarly to native outer blood-retina barrier. Under induced stress, printed tissue exhibited patterns of early AMD such as drusen deposits underneath the retinal pigment epithelium and progression to late dry stage AMD, where tissue degradation was observed. Low oxygen induced a wet AMD-like appearance. Anti-VEGF drugs, used to treat AMD, restored tissue morphology.

Co-author Dr Marc Ferrer, director of the 3D Tissue Bioprinting Laboratory at NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, said the retina tissue models “have many potential uses in translational applications, including therapeutics development”.