ISRAEL TO PERFORM FIRST SYNTHETIC CORNEA TRANSPLANT, RETURNING SIGHT TO THE BLIND
The Israeli procedure uses advanced cell nano-technology that could revolutionize cornea transplants to bring sight back to millions.
CorNeat, an Israeli bio-tech company has announced a world-first revolutionary breakthrough in eye treatment technology. The company said it has developed artificial cornea that could return sight to the blind.
A cornea transplant (keratoplasty) is a surgical procedure to replace part of your cornea with corneal tissue from a donor. Your cornea is the transparent, dome-shaped surface of your eye that accounts for a large part of your eye's focusing power.
A corneal transplant is recommended for people who have: Vision problems caused by thinning of the cornea, most often due to keratoconus, scarring of the cornea from severe infections or injuries, vision loss caused by cloudiness of the cornea, most often due to Fuchs dystrophy. You won't be asleep during the surgery, but you shouldn't feel any pain. During the most common type of cornea transplant (penetrating keratoplasty), your surgeon cuts through the entire thickness of the abnormal or diseased cornea to remove a small button-sized disk of corneal tissue.
In the United States, patients who have failed multiple corneal grafts may be offered an artificial cornea. An artificial or prosthetic cornea, known as a keratoprosthesis (KPro), is a corneal implant made of synthetic material, the most common of which is the Boston keratoprosthesis (Boston KPro). After blood transfusion, cornea transplant is evidently the most performed transplants in the United States.
Like blood transfusion, there is a critical risk of infections during a cornea transplant process which is now compounded by the highly infectious novel coronavirus. Since there is a high-risk of Covid-19 contaminating anything relating to human tissue, CorNeat says its new artificial cornea largely eliminates the risk of infection. The Israeli company has received approval by governing bodies to move the development to human trials.
The cornea is the transparent part of the eye that covers the front portion of the eye. It covers the pupil (the opening at the center of the eye), iris (the colored part of the eye), and anterior chamber (the fluid-filled inside of the eye). The cornea's main function is to refract, or bend, light. It receives nourishment from tears and the aqueous humor; in order to refract light, the cornea must remain transparent and cloud-free. Scarring of the cornea caused by a wide variety of infectious and inflammatory diseases leads to severe vision loss and blindness.
Corneal transplants are performed routinely and have a reasonable success rate. In fact, cornea grafts are the most successful of all tissue transplants. Cornea transplant rejection can be reversed in 9 out of 10 cases if detected early enough.
Penetrating corneal graft survival was 91% at 1 year, 72% at 5 years and 69% at 7 years. The three most common indications for graft were keratoconus (30%), bullous keratopathy (25%) and failed previous graft (18%); the three most common causes of graft failure were rejection (34%), infection (18%) and glaucoma (9%).Because human transplants are not always a lasting success, CorNeat developed its first synthetic cornea that effectively “bio-integrates” with the eye wall.
The new KPro implant is designed to replace deformed or scarred corneas that have become clouded. This type of artificial cornea is expected to fully rehabilitate the vision of people with blindness caused by damage to the cornea immediately following implantation. Most corneal transplants last well beyond 10 years. Corneal transplant patients require bi-annual ophthalmic checkups to ensure optimal eye health.
The Israeli bio-tech company says human trials for their new artificial cornea starts with ten blind patients who have not had any cornea transplant success. More human trials expanded from Israel to other top hospitals in the United States and Canada will follow later in the year.
CorNeat researchers developed a technique by which the artificial cornea integrates with resident ocular tissue using a new patented synthetic non-degradable nano-fabric material.
“Following rigorous pre-clinical testing and successful animal trials, we feel confident moving on and proving our device’s safety and efficacy in humans,” said KPro inventer Dr. Gilad Litvin, CorNeat Vision’s Chief Medical Officer. “Our device’s implantation procedure … does not rely on donor tissue, is relatively simple and takes less than an hour to perform.”
Dr. Litvin went on to say the new invention will restore sight to millions of blind people around the world even in regions with less advanced corneal technology, including places where organ donations and transplant are controversial since there is no need to harvest tissue from a donor for the transplant.
Canadian ophthalmologist, Professor David Rootman, hailed the Israeli invention as “revolutionary” in corneal transplant bio technology. The professor affirmed CorNeat’s artificial cornea has superior optical quality and uncomplicated. With the success of a human trial, the professor expects a significant reduction in the need for donated human corneas for transplant purposes. This aspect alone is a significant breakthrough as the virus pandemic poses substantial risk to organ donation.
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