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HyderabadIIT-Hyderabad researchers find alternative to corneal transplantation

IIT-Hyderabad researchers find alternative to corneal transplantation

Published: 29th Sep 2021 10:59 pm

Sangareddy: Dr Falguni Pati, Associate Professor, Department of Bio-medical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad, and his research team have developed a hydrogel from discarded corneas from human and bovine sources using a novel and simple method.

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In a serendipitous happening, they discovered the most striking feature of this tissue-specific hydrogel to prevent cells from scar tissue formation, which is attributed to the micro-environment that cannot be offered by any synthetic or other natural material.

Capable of being injected owing to its two phases (liquid and gel) based on the incubation temperature, they explored its potential to serve as a material for minimally invasive treatment to replace complicated surgeries. Until now, no solution is available to prevent corneal scarring following an injury. They demonstrated, for the first time, that this hydrogel can be applied immediately after injury which helps to regenerate the cornea without scarring. Until now, no treatment is available other than partial donor corneal graft or corneal transplantation for scarring, which is already present in the visual acuity.

Congratulating the team on this novel innovation, Prof B Murty, Director IIT-H said, “Vision, being one of the most important organs of any living being, this innovation by Dr Falguni and team will indeed bring light to many lives. This innovation has once again demonstrated IIT-H’s zeal to collaborate for synergistic outcomes to serve the society at large.”

Dr Sayan Basu, Prof D Balasubramanian Chair of Eye Research and Virender Sangwan Chair of Regenerative Ophthalmology, and Director, Centre for Ocular Regeneration (CORE), Prof Brien Holden Eye Research Centre (BHERC), LVPEI, and one of the Principal Investigators of this project, observed “Corneal disease is a leading cause of blindness and visual impairment in India, and in the rest of the developing world where there is also a huge shortage of donor corneal tissue. Our collaboration with Dr Falguni and his team at IIT-H on innovative approaches like the DCM (Decellularize Cornea Matrix) is very promising and could restore vision to millions with corneal blindness, who are awaiting or unlikely to receive a corneal transplant.”

Dr Vivek Singh, Senior Scientist at LVPEI and one of the Principal Investigators of this project believes that “this technology will have a big impact in countries where there is a scarcity of Eye bank and donor tissue. Dr Singh being from Varanasi, the constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has experienced that the southern part of India is much more developed than the northern part for Eyecare. Still, states like Uttara Pradesh and Bihar have the least accessibility to Donor cornea and they have to travel to South India for any corneal perforation, scars, or related disease. This technology will even be used to prevent blindness in northern rural India where there is limited availability of donor cadaveric transplantation grade cornea as well as eye hospitals like LV Prasad and Sankara Nethralaya.”

Relishing this innovation, Dr Falguni Pati said, “The department has taken many ingenious initiatives from offering B-Tech in Bio-medical Engineering to M-Tech in Medical Device Innovation. Medical science backed by the expertise of engineering will bring life-changing research and make it a reality.”

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