For the first time, a group of British researchers have used inkjet printing technology to successfully print cells taken from the eye, raising the possibility of producing artificial tissue grafts from human retina that could cure blindness.
The breakthrough was published on Wednesday in the journal Biofabrication, by researchers at the University of Cambridge.
At the moment the results are preliminary and provide proof-of-principle that an inkjet printer can be used to print two types of cells from the retina of adult rats ganglion cells and glial cells, a university release said.
This is the first time the technology has been used successfully to print mature central nervous system cells and the results showed that printed cells remained healthy and retained their ability to survive and grow in culture.
Co-authors of the study, Professor Keith Martin and Dr Barbara Lorber, said: “The loss of nerve cells in the retina is a feature of many blinding eye diseases. The retina is an exquisitely organised structure where the precise arrangement of cells in relation to one another is critical for effective visual function”.
They added: “Our study has shown, for the first time, that cells derived from the mature central nervous system, the eye, can be printed using a piezoelectric inkjet printer. Although our results are preliminary, the aim is to develop this technology for use in retinal repair in the future.”