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New hope for corneal blindness

European Union funds research in corneal regeneration and artificial cornea (COST BM 1302)

Corneal blindness is the second most common cause of blindness world wide. Corneal transplantation is the therapeutic approach used in most patients with corneal blindness. Besides the problem of donor tissue shortage, the prospect of corneal transplants placed into highly vascularised and inflamed eyes is very poor due to immune rejection.

Joining forces in corneal regeneration.

Corneal blindness is the second most common cause of blindness world wide. Corneal transplantation is the therapeutic approach used in most patients with corneal blindness. Besides the problem of donor tissue shortage, the prospect of corneal transplants placed into highly vascularised and inflamed eyes is very poor due to immune rejection.

Prof. Claus Cursiefen
image Claus Cursiefen

For the next 4 years cornea specialists, material scientists, stem cell biologists, clinician scientists and material biologists try to move research ahead in the fields of corneal regeneration, ocular surface regeneration and development of artificial corneas. There is a strong cooperation with industry to develop novel forms of “Biocorneas” (Aeon Astron, Netherlands). The COST Action primarily is devoted to funding exchange activities and networking between European eye researchers and clinician-scientist.

A special focus of this project is to develop so called “Biocorneas”. These collagen based tissues shall revolutionize the future of human tissue replacement. These collagen matrices will by repopulated by host tissue over time and thereby not only reduce donor tissue shortage, but also ameliorate the risk of immune reactions since the graft will by replaced by host tissue over time. That means the Biocornea will become “self” in immunological terms over time. One very promising approach is the use of fish scales as transparent and biodegradable Biocorneas (see picture): “Better seeing through fish scales?” Initial preclinical experiments are very promising.

The project is under the guidance of Prof. Dr. med. Claus Cursiefen from the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Cologne. He acts as the Action Chair. Co-chair is Prof. Martine Jaeger from the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands.

Contact

Prof. Dr. med. Claus Cursiefen, FEBO

Chairman and Professor
Dept. of Ophthalmology
University of Cologne

E-mail: Claus.cursiefen[at]uk-koeln.de

About COST

COST is an intergovernmental framework for European Cooperation in Science and Technology, allowing the coordination of nationally-funded research on a European level.

More information on the website www.cost.eu

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