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Adhesive Eye Gel Repairs Injuries without Surgery

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 01 Apr 2019
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Image: The GelCORE product could help heal corneal injuries without surgery (Photo courtesy of Medical Xpress).
Image: The GelCORE product could help heal corneal injuries without surgery (Photo courtesy of Medical Xpress).
A new study describes how a biomaterial that bonds to the cornea could aid repair and regeneration of injuries that might otherwise require corneal transplant surgery.

Developed at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI; Boston, USA), GelCORE (gel for corneal regeneration) technology is based on an adhesive gel that incorporates blue-light activated chemicals that can seal cuts or ulcers on the cornea and then encourage the regeneration of corneal tissue. The properties of GelCORE can be finely controlled by varying the concentration and the amount of time exposure to light, offering the possibility of changing the formulation for different types and severities of eye injuries.

In a new study that assessed GelCORE in a preclinical model, the researchers applied the gel at 20% concentration to corneal defects of 3mm, and then applied visible blue light for four minutes. One day later, they observed a transparent, smooth eye surface, with a surrounding cornea that was clear and without inflammation. One week after application, the gel could still be observed on the defect site in the cornea, remaining transparent. Over time, the tissue showed signs of regeneration, with cells of the new tissue showing similarities between regenerated tissue and native tissue. The study was published on March 20, 2019, in Science Advances.

“Our hope is that this biomaterial could fill in a major gap in technology available to treat corneal injuries," said co-corresponding author Reza Dana, MD, director of the cornea and refractive surgery Service at MEEI. “We set out to create a material that is clear, strongly adhesive, and permits the cornea to not only close the defect, but also to regenerate. We wanted this material to allow the cells of the cornea to mesh with the adhesive and to regenerate over time to mimic something as close to the native cornea as possible.”

Corneal injuries are a common cause of visual impairment worldwide, with more than 1.5 million new cases of corneal blindness reported every year. The current standard of care for filling in cuts, thinning areas, or corneal defects includes synthetic glues, surgery, and corneal transplants. The synthetic glues currently available are rough, inherently toxic to tissues, difficult to handle, and can lead to significant vision loss due to inherent opacity and poor integration with corneal tissues. Corneal transplants carry risks of post-transplant complications, including infection or rejection.

Related Links:
Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary

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